Marrow Memory: Essays of Discovery

Marrow Memory: Essays of Discovery

Margaret Nowaczyk
  • $22.00

June 4, 2024
300 pages | ISBN 978-1-989496-90-9

In Marrow Memory: Essays of Discovery Margaret Nowaczyk explores different facets of her life, from listening to the radio dramas of her childhood in Communist Poland to her work now as a pediatric clinical geneticist. These are beautifully crafted essays, full of hard-won truths and insights, generously shared with the reader. Whether struggling with English as a teenaged refugee or documenting the process of permanent hair dye, Nowaczyk moves seamlessly between scientific and personal writing, bridging the gap between these two areas with elegance and humour. Marrow Memory is an invitation to the reader to marvel in the unexpected beauties of human experience and the ability of language to capture that.

Advance Praise

"The essays in Marrow Memory dazzled and moved me with their erudition and sensuousness, their humour and their breadth in subject. Whether it’s writing about Tay–Sachs disease, life in Communist Poland or her peasant ancestors, Margaret Nowaczyk never once falters in making her personal fascinations feel vital and relevant." – Kevin Chong, author of The Double Life of Benson Yu

"Fascinating, sensitive and wholly absorbing, these essays explore the mechanics of memory, how memory not only fixes events in time, but also alters those events into story. Margaret Nowaczyk incorporates her scientific background and her precise imagination to bring us these deep and multi-layered excursions into her past and those of her patients. The result is a rich and rewarding journey to the present." – Wayne Grady, author of The Good Father

Marrow Memory is sinewy, sharp and seductive. Margaret Nowaczyk’s new collection of essays meditates on everything from molecules, monsters and medical school to the marvels of the everyday – from the miracle of each tiny membrane of the ear vibrating to take in late-night transistor radio waves from a childhood bedroom in Communist Poland to the pleasures and pains of sexual freedom to the hues of blue in Matisse’s Tahitian seascapes. With a geneticist’s eye for uncanny detail, the marrow at the root of family and selfhood is revealed with grit and grace. How is a human made? this collection asks, as the speaker pours over anatomy textbooks, assesses infant genetic disparities and recognizes her own familiar whorls of DNA in the pleasure of perfectly laundered sheets, the teal-and-orange colour of the Beck taxi her father drives through a 1980s’ Toronto recession as a new immigrant and her sons’ long strides through the grasses of her ancestors’ fields. This collection models the alchemy of what the personal essay does best – through the stories of another’s unfamiliar life, the reader finds affinity.” – Heather Jessup, author of This Is Not a Hoax: Unsettling Truth in Canadian Culture and The Lightning Field

"These essays shine with candour and insight. In lively prose, rich with empathy and detail, Margaret Nowaczyk recounts moments of discovery in her life as a daughter, lover, mother, geneticist, reader, traveller, writer and seeker. Marrow Memory finds beauty in the heart of the familiar and the extraordinary, revealing the essence of a memorable life." – Lorri Neilsen Glenn, author of Following the River: Traces of Red River Women


What We're Reading: Staff Writers' Picks, Spring 2024 (Hamilton Review of Books, 05/04/2024)
It's wonderful to see Margaret Nowaczyk on this great list.

Most Anticipated: Our 2024 Nonfiction Spring Preview (49th Shelf, 07/02/2024)
Margaret's book makes this roundup of most anticipated nonfiction.

About the Author

Born in Poland, Margaret Nowaczyk is a pediatric clinical geneticist and a professor at McMaster University and DeGroote School of Medicine. Her short stories and essays have appeared in Canadian, Polish and American literary magazines and anthologies. She lives in Hamilton, ON, with her husband and two sons. Visit her website at

Other Titles by This Author

Chasing Zebras: A Memoir of Genetics, Mental Health and Writing (2021)

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