A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

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No Return Address cover photo.

  • Wayne State University Board of Governers’ Faculty Award, 200l.
  • Winner, Wayne State University Board of Governers’ Lifetime Achievement Award, 2002.

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No Return Address: A Memoir of Displacement is a vivid memoir of a life in exile and a poignant meditation on pleasure and loss, repression and transgression, and the complexities of love under harsh human conditions.

In recounting her life's journey from Rumania to Paris and Brussels, then on to the U. S., Anca Vlasopolos writes movingly of the peculiar attributes of displacement in the contemporary word—the hyphenated, ambiguous identities; the purgatory in which immigrants await transfer to another country; the mysterious nostalgia for places and events dimly recalled. Throughout, she describes the constant search for a place to truly call home.

Vlasopolos renders a clear and loving portrait of her mother, an Auschwitz survivor courageously raising a young girl by herself after the death of her husband, a political dissident. She details their years of limbo in Brussels and Paris and of settlement in Detroit, Michigan, as well as her ultimate decision to identify the U. S. as home, inspired by the strong multicultural quality that allows so many others to do the same.

“A beautifully written memoir, its stories and analyses woven seamlessly in prose that is both passionately and intellectually compelling.” — Shirley Geok-lin Lim, author of Among the White Moon Faces, Joss and Gold, and Sister Swing...

“Full of sensuous detail, comic and sad, No Return Address limns a life of change and contradiction, with a survivor's brio and a poet's grace.” — Kathe Koja, author of The Cipher, Extremities, Straydog, and Blue Mirror...

“‘How and where can I rewrite the history of anonymous women?’ asks Vlasopolos. The memoir itself, the ‘very act of writing without fear,’ is the answer to this question. Reflecting on her mother’s courage in leaving all she had known and bringing her out of Rumania, Anca Vlasopolos writes exactly that history.” — Robert Eaglestone, TLS (The Times Literary Supplement), January 26, 2001, p. 33

“Abounding with images and symbols—the ‘Holy Grail’ of the West, the smell of bread in Paris, the tangled but orderly subterranean Paris Metro, the Easter candle in a Jewish/Orthodox household, the plastic mesh sack to carry food—the book aptly describes the emigrant experience and life behind the Iron Curtain. Defining the nomadic struggle many emigrés to the US (and elsewhere) have endured, this volume is recommended for academic and general collections at all levels.” — L. J. Rippley, Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, vol. 38, no. 8 (April 2001)

“In No Return Address Vlasopolos builds with living stones, for she has put St. Peter’s words to a different use: ‘And, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.’ However, here the living stones are Vlasopolos’s words that create a temple of lyrical prose, a tribute to a lost culture, lost people, her lost mother, lost love—and yet not lost, for she has created it here.” — Ralph Freedman, “The Memoir and Representations of the Self,” Comparative Literature and Culture: A WWWeb Journal, 4.3 (September 2002)

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Can you read Chinese? Yes? Then read Sarolina Chang’s article in The Liberty Times, April 26, 2007, detailing how she felt about No Return Address after she heard Anca read at Schoolcraft College in March 2007.

If you can’t link to The Liberty Times, we've made a jpeg of the article here.

Mobile Narrataives: Travel, Migration, and Transculturation, edited by Eleftheria Arapoglou, Monika Fodor, and Jopi Nyman (Routledge, 2013), features an essay by Ioana Luca, “A Traveling Self with No Return Address: Anca Vlasopolos” (pp. 251-261). You can read portions of it here.

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