Professor David Hlavsa, Gold INDIEFAB winner
July 1, 2016

LACEY, WA. — David Hlavsa, professor of theatre arts and interdisciplinary studies, at Saint Martin’s University is the recipient of a Foreward Reviews’ gold INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award for his book, “Walking Distance: Pilgrimage, Parenthood, Grief, and Home Repairs.”

Foreward Reviews is a trade review quarterly widely used by booksellers and librarians. It covers books published by university, independent and alternative publishers, as well as the self-publishing industry.  The Indie Awards for books published in 2015 were announced in late June at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Orlando, Fla.

Hlavsa’s book, published by Michigan State University Press, topped the family and relations category and was a finalist in the memoir category. It tells the story of a 400-mile pilgrimage along Spain’s Camino de Santiago by Hlavsa and his wife Lisa Holtby in 2000, as they sought to work through marriage matters and prepare for parenthood. The tale of their pilgrimage becomes metaphor for a journey through the traumatic stillbirth of their firstborn, James, a harrowing second pregnancy that delivers their second child, Benjamin, safely into the world, and the healing, spiritual growth and joy that often bud so mysteriously amid life’s most anguishing moments. Told with heart and lightened by Hlava’s wicked sense of humor, it has drawn wide praise.

"Every year, mothers and fathers experience the painful loss of a child through either miscarriage or stillbirth. Too often this loss is shuttled away, spoken of only in hushed tones, if spoken of at all. Yet those children matter as much to the parents as the children who survive, who live,” writes Poet Todd Davis in a review. “Walking Distance” takes on the hard task of retelling what it was like for Lisa Holtby and her husband, the author, David Hlavsa, when they lose their first child, James, to a stillbirth.  In prose that is both deft and honest, Hlavsa crafts a narrative that ushers us into the immediacy of that event and its aftermath. Somehow he manages to put language to the unnamable, to make us turn from our weeping so we may see what is behind that weeping, to consider how such events transform us.”

“Walking Distance” is available at the Saint Martin’s University bookstore, many area bookstores and online.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing­ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedic­tine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For more information:

David Hlavsa
Professor, Theatre Studies
Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Marketing and Communications