The Irreconcilable Nature of War, Loss and Consequence

By Catherine Lang

Categories: Memoir
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773861517, September 2024
Expected to ship: 2024-09-20

Award-winning writer and former reporter Catherine Lang wrestles with the consequences of war in the aftermath of the death of her niece Michelle Lang, who was killed while embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan.


When Catherine Lang's niece and Calgary Herald reporter Michelle Lang was killed while embedded with Canadian troops near Kandahar City, Afghanistan, in 2009, her world shifted.

In the aftermath, Lang and her family experienced the rigour of military ceremony. As she pieced together fragments from Michelle’s last days, Lang connected with the loved ones of soldiers who died alongside Michelle. She met with those injured by the roadside bomb, including the lone civilian woman talking to Michelle at the time of the blast, discovering in her and others a steely resilience to carry on and a more intimate understanding of the meaning of sacrifice. Suddenly thrust close to this aspect of Canadian society, Lang began to question previously held black-and-white views about military engagement, and she turned to writing as a way to understand the impact on her and her family, and to ensure that Michelle lived on in memory.

Wrestling with the unfathomable consequence of war, she travels across Canada to learn about Michelle through the eyes of her colleagues and friends. This process brings Lang to Saskatchewan, where she had lived as a child—a homecoming that reveals much to Catherine about Michelle, and about herself. Brought together by a shared love of journalism, a career she left behind, and dedication to press freedom and to the rights of Afghan women and girls, Lang is led back to writing through her search for Michelle, and back to Michelle through the language of love and loss.