Nancy Richler, writer (born 16 May 1957 in Montreal, QC; died 18 January 2018 in Vancouver, BC). Nancy Richler began writing at seven years of age. She graduated from Brandeis University with a degree in History, then completed an MSW and worked with youth for several years. In 1986 Richler received an MA in International Studies with a focus on the Soviet Union from the University of Denver Graduate School. Richler describes the impact of historical and political movements on the lives of ordinary individuals. Her writing impresses with a remarkable sensitivity to human pain and suffering, representing characters with piercing precision.
Nancy Richler's first novel, Throw Away Angels (1996), was born out of the community apathy toward Vancouver's missing sex trade workers at the end of the 20th century. Within the novel Tova, a depressed laundromat manager, befriends Gina, a former stripper whose disappearance fails to spur police action. Tova investigates on her own, resulting in the unraveling of a desperate mystery. Richler's work reveals her interest in the cost of courage and its resonance throughout lives and relationships. Throw Away Angels was shortlisted for a 1997 Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Crime Novel.
The novel Your Mouth Is Lovely (2002) is set amidst the political turbulence of Nancy Richler's grandparents' Russia. Moving between 1897 and 1912, Miriam tells her story in an extended letter to her daughter Hayya, taken from her at birth in a Kiev prison. Having never known her own mother, Miriam fears that Hayya will be left with similar mysteries, so even as she is dying in Siberia she writes every day for her daughter "my meager offering, my attempt to clear a path to your own beginning." In these letters Miriam describes the sacrifices she has made for those she loved, yet never recognizes her own courage: " 'Your mother was a heroine,' you'll be told... It's a lie, but not entirely." Your Mouth is Lovely won the 2003 Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction (See Jewish writing) and Italy's 2004 Adei-Wizo Award.
Richler returned to her grandparents' time for The Imposter Bride (2012). In 1944 a young woman steals the identity of Lily Kramer, whom she finds frozen to death in a village field in Nazi-occupied Poland (See Second World War, Polish Canadians). She takes her identity card, a notebook and a large diamond she finds in the girl's pocket. In the wake of the liberating armies, the new Lily makes her way to Canada to marry. Like Richler's own grandmother, upon arriving Lily is rejected on the station platform by her would-be groom, Sol. Lily is shamed but practical: "She had no time to waste - no strength - on a man who fled at the mere sight of a woman.... No great loss, then." Sol's brother Nathan is drawn to Lily's beauty and her "tension, a feral tension, part hunger, part fear." But her fierce strength ultimately causes him to lose her as she searches for her own life, abandoning him and their daughter Ruth. The Imposter Bride is Ruth's search for her mother and their true identities, and Ruth's quest to understand the notebook Lily left behind. The novel was shortlisted for the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Nancy Richler's writing has appeared in literary magazines and collections including Prairie Fire, A Room of One's Own and The Journey Prize Anthology.