Grad’s debut novel attracts British and American publishers

York alumna Sidura Ludwig’s debut novel, Holding My Breath, has just been published by Key Porter Books and has already had glowing reviews.

Left: Sidura Ludwig

Set in Winnipeg’s storied north end after the Second World War, the novel is a coming-of-age story about Beth, the youngest in a family of strong Jewish women, who struggles to reconcile the pressure to conform and her desire to be free.

The book was released by Key Porter in Canada in March and has been scooped up by British and American publishers for release next year.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Ludwig lives in Toronto with her husband and two children. She graduated summa cum laude from York in 1998 with a specialized honours BA in English. The A-student studied literature and creative writing, won the York President’s Prize for Screenplay Writing in 1997 and was among Vanier’s Vingt-Deux, one of 22 students who made the Master’s Honour Roll.

Her short fiction has appeared in several magazines and anthologies in Canada and the UK, and she is the recipient of the Canadian Author and Bookman Prize for Most Promising Writer. Her non-fiction work has appeared on CBC radio and in Canadian newspapers and magazines. She has led creative writing workshops in Winnipeg, Toronto, Birmingham, England, and Boston.

Margaret Sweatman, author of When Alice Lay Down with Peter, has this to say about Holding My Breath:

"This is a portrait of an era, a city, a family; a story lovingly told by a girl born into Winnipeg’s post-War Jewish community. Sidura Ludwig writes from a deeply felt knowledge of this time and place, all the more remarkable because she’s too young to know it all first-hand. Here are three sisters, three distinct responses to the persuasions of family, seen through the eyes of a daughter torn between familial devotion and restless, brilliant ambition. This novel depicts the tremendous capacity for love and the sometimes tragic tendency to hold our loved ones too tight."

A Globe and Mail reviewer liked Ludwig’s fresh approach:

"Told in the dreamy voice of Beth as she comes of age in the Jewish community in Winnipeg following the Second World War, the story explores the taut pull between traditional family ties and the quest for individual fulfilment. This is an age-old conflict, but Ludwig makes it fresh despite hewing to conventional style and structure."

A Winnipeg Free Press reviewer found much to relate to:

"Her sensitive and detailed exploration of character, combined with her skill at evoking the specificities of time and place, create something to which everyone can relate."