University of Alberta Press, 2019

Why couldn’t I occupy the world as those model-looking women did, with their flowing hair, pulling their tiny bright suitcases as if to say, I just arrived from elsewhere, and I already belong here, and this sidewalk belongs to me?

When her marriage suddenly ends, and a diary documenting her beloved grandfather’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi K. Lewis decides to retrace his journey to learn about her family history. Despite suffering from extreme disorientation and a lifetime of anxiety, she travels alone for the first time. Moving from Amsterdam to Lyon—relying on the marvels of GPS—she discovers family secrets and her own narrative as a second-generation Jewish Canadian. With vulnerability, humour, and wisdom, Lewis’s memoir asks tough questions about her identity as a secular Jew, the accuracy of family stories, and the impact of the Holocaust on subsequent generations. How do immigrants weave their sense of identity into their chosen countries? Must we be able to locate ourselves within family and cultural geography to belong?


"Wry, moving and beautifully written—Naomi Lewis is a wonderful writer."

Alison Pick, Booker nominated author of Between Gods and Strangers with the Same Dream


Early on in Tiny Lights for Travellers, author Naomi Lewis admits she is a poor traveller. She is, however, a master navigator of her own interior geography. In this quiet, humble and profoundly openhearted memoir, Lewis maps her family’s history, her relationship to faith, and the loves she has both lost and gained. As a reader, I feel thankful to have been invited on the journey.

Marcello Di Cintio, author of Pay No Heed to the Rockets


"An irresistibly wise, poignant, and often funny memoir, a spiral dance through time and space exploring memory, desire, the roots of family, race and religion; as well as what it means to belong in one’s own skin."

Lauren B. Davis, author of The Grimoire of Kensington Market, The Empty Room, and others


"I was deeply engaged with Naomi’s journey through Europe while also curious about and interested in the memories of her family life, her marriage, her questions of identity, and a burgeoning love story. A hugely intelligent and creative memoir."

Lauren Carter, author of Following Sea