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 Opa’s escape from Nazi-occupied Netherlands in the summer of 1942 is discovered, Naomi Lewis decides to retrace his journey to freedom. Travelling alone from Amsterdam to Lyon, 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.
About the author
Naomi K. Lewis was born in England, lived in Washington DC, and grew up in Ottawa. Her stories have been published in The Fiddlehead, The New Quarterly, the Antigonish Review, Prairie Fire, and Grain. "The Guiding Light," a chapter of the novel that began as a story, won The Fiddlehead Fiction Prize in 2007. Lewis now lives in Edmonton. Cricket in a Fist is her first book-length work of fiction.
- Winner, Wilfrid Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
- Short-listed, The City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
- Winner, Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature
- Winner, The Western Canada Jewish Book Awards, Pinsky Givon Family Prize for Non-Fiction
- Short-listed, Governor General Literary Awards, Non-fiction
"After her grandfather’s death, when Lewis’s parents were moving her grandmother into an assisted-living facility, they found a yellowed, type-written document: 30 foolscap pages in Dutch, and 30 pages translated into English. It recounted her grandfather’s escape [from Nazi occupation] into southern France. Lewis, a short story writer and novelist, transcribed her grandfather’s journal, and later traced her grandfather’s route, travelling from Amsterdam to Lyon, discovering family secrets along the way."
# 8 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, December 01, 2019
"Calgary author Naomi K. Lewis joins educator Abby Wener Herlin in conversation about her well-regarded memoir, Tiny Lights for Travellers. Nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction in 2019, Tiny Lights for Travellers explores her Jewish identity while retracing her grandfather’s escape from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands." [https://www.straight.com/arts/family-stories-run-through-vancouvers-cherie-smith-jcc-jewish-book-festival]
The Georgia Straight
"Naomi is an incredibly talented writer and the loveliest of human beings. Her words are thought provoking and genuine. This is her journey to learn about her family history. Knowing who you are and understating where you come from can be a lifelong exploration."
"I just finished reading Tiny Lights for Travellers by Naomi K. Lewis and I can't recommend it enough.... [T]his book is beautifully written, immediate, entertaining, and engrossing."
# 10 on Edmonton's Bestselling Books list; Non-fiction, September 20, 2020
"Tiny Lights for Travellers starts with a zit, percolating brightly on the nose of our author while she takes the transatlantic flight that begins the book. In a strange, unlikely, funny, unabashed and endearing way, this first image in Naomi K. Lewis's reluctant, almost anti-travel memoir encapsulates much of what her book is about."
Laurie D. Graham
"When Naomi Lewis was a child, no one in her family talked about the fact that her grandfather had escaped Nazi-occupied Europe, largely by foot and through the kindness of strangers. In fact, no one spoke much about that part of their family history, at all."