Sharon Kirsch is a writer of fiction, narrative non-fiction and journalism with a particular interest in how individuals are transformed by experiences of the new and the unfamiliar. Her recent memoir, The Smallest Objective, has been shortlisted for the 2021 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature.

In The Smallest Objective, the microscope lens, or objective, belonging to the author’s grandfather enables great clarity of vision. It counts, too, as one of many items the author retrieves from her family home as she pursues the rumour of buried treasure. Together, these objects and the several personalities they represent—a celebrated rogue turned raconteur, a botanist, a young woman seized with newfound opportunities—offer a vantage point on 20th-century Montreal and its Jewish community. Not least is the author’s mother, battling memory loss as her daughter reveals a legacy of unexpected secrets and willed forgetfulness. The Smallest Objective is available as an e-book on Amazon.com and Kobo.com, and in print from New Star Books and Amazon.com.

Sharon’s fiction and non-fiction are also marked by an enduring interest in animals. What Species of Creatures, her debut book of literary non-fiction, was inspired by historical writings about unfamiliar “beasts.” “Animals Out of Turn,” a work in progress, imagines how the arts, scientific understanding, alchemy and even culinary tradition shape our interactions with other species.

Upcoming Events

November 18: Join Sharon and other finalists in the 2021 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature in a virtual panel discussion moderated by Zelda Abramson.

November 25: Join Sharon in a virtual presentation for Montreal’s Atwater Library Lunchtime Series.

Praise for The Smallest Objective, a finalist in the 2021 Vine Awards for Canadian Jewish Literature

“Emptying her parents’ home furnishes Sharon Kirsch with the emotional drive to write a family history that is fascinating, meticulously researched, and full of yearning. I read it with pleasure.”
—Elizabeth Hay, author of the memoir All Things Consoled

“In this particularly well-crafted memoir, author Sharon Kirsch shares her experience of exploration, healing and loss. Akin to an intricately detailed slide under a microscope, this suite of stories, in fact, a collection of newly discovered memories, is a familial jigsaw puzzle—a series of mysteries, reassembled by way of meticulous research and the astute observation of a writer in her prime.
—Bill Arnott, The Miramichi Reader

“This new memoir is based on impeccable research, and the prose is equal parts unsentimental, edifying and engaging. Kirsch is especially forthright and honest when she writes about her mother, her failing health and her failing memory. She is equally adept in the way she juxtapositions the impending loss of her mother with her newfound family knowledge.”
—Sharon Chisvin, Winnipeg Free Press 

“Kirsch’s new book The Smallest Objective (New Star Books) is a very personal memoir set in the Jewish Montreal of the 20th century, fascinating for its frank examination of mothers and daughters, revelation of family secrets, and showing how the past is always somehow present.”
—Janice Arnold, Canadian Jewish Record

“Kirsch is a writer by trade, and as a result her memoir bears a warm, clever tone and rich historical detail … it’s Kirsch’s vivid writing that truly brings to life the three generations of family to which readers are introduced.”
—Sharon Hanna, Canada’s History

“Kirsch exhumes a wealth of small, seemingly insignificant objects and minute details of past lives — always fitting them together in interesting ways. It is an unsuspected pleasure to find one drawn through the story without knowing exactly why, such is the author’s skill in weaving together disparate elements, moving us on from one part of the tale to another, putting together the giant puzzle with a few pieces missing.”
—Eric McMillan, Streeter

Video

Virtual launch featuring Sharon in conversation with arts reporter Jeanette Kelly, plus music by Socalled, one of Canada’s most distinctive klezmer artists

Virtual launch highlights

Sharon reading from The Smallest Objective