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Winner of the 2021 Governor General Literary Award for Non-fiction

A singular memoir from one of Canada’s most compelling poets.

alfabet / alphabet is the record of Sadiqa de Meijer’s transition from speaking Dutch to English. Exploring questions of identity, landscape, family, and translation, the essays navigate the shifting cultural currents of language by using an eclectic approach to storytelling. As such, fellow linguistic migrants to anglophone Canada will recognize elements of their experience in alfabet / alphabet, while lifelong English speakers will perceive their mother tongue in a new light.

Praise for Sadiqa de Meijer

Language as the mother of bond and breach is beautifully storied in Sadiqa de Meijer’s poignant and provocative memoir, alfabet/alphabet. This is a book that dreams of transforming migration, citizenship, families, nationhood and the very utterances upon which each is built. A deeply hopeful narrative about language itself, a singular exploration of the way that words build a home.—2021 Governor General Literary Awards Peer assessment committee: Sarah de Leeuw, Amanda Leduc and Evelyn C. White

A voice of authority and grace.–Michael Crummey

These lucid, penetrating meditations on language, loss, and identity glow with the tempered beauty of sea glass. English is Sadiqa de Meijer’s adopted tongue, but her voice sounds as strong as a breaking wave, mellifluous as running water. What is the Nederlands for peerless?–Susan Olding

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