Miller, Keith. The Sins of Angels. Hornsea, UK: PS Publishing, 2016.
Keith Miller is one of the first, if not the first, Mennonite writers to write speculative fiction (since he began publishing a few others–Sofia Samatar, Corey Redekop, André Swartley–have also ventured into the speculative realm). His two previous novels, The Book of Flying and The Book on Fire, are both excellent, thus when I saw that his new book was available for pre-order I purchased it immediately. It came this week.
With the new semester set to start in little more than a week, I have acquired desk copies from publishers for some of my courses. In the case of Abeng and Nervous Conditions I have older editions that are now out of print (they were texts that I was assigned as a student and am now myself assigning), but the other three are books that I do not own. This is nice because the storing of duplicate copies can be a hassle. In the case of Gilman’s and Kerouac’s works I have them in anthologies but not as standalone volumes, and Haddad’s novel just came out a few months ago, so I am doing the rare (for me) thing of assigning a text that sounds fascinating without having previously read it myself.
Cliff, Michelle. Abeng. 1984. New York: Plume, 1995.
Dangarembga, Tsitsi. Nervous Conditions. 1988. Banbury, UK: Ayebia Clarke Publishing, 2004.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.
Haddad, Saleem. Guapa. New York: Other Press, 2016.
Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. 1958. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.
I’ve spent the entire summer reading, thinking, and writing about Mennonite literature, which I have come to realize is now my primary field of study. As a part of this studying I’ve been reading a lot of Mennonite literary criticism, which has been tremendously enriching. The one problem with reading literary criticism, though, is that there are always books cited that I haven’t read before which sound interesting, so of course I have to buy them. These two books were acquired as a result of this process.
I have mentioned before how I strongly dislike the new MLA formatting, and most Mennonite studies journals use Chicago Style, so I have decided to start using Chicago Style in all of my writing, including here.
Vermette, Katherena. North End Love Songs. Winnipeg: The Muses’ Company, 2012.
Vermette is of mixed Mennonite and First Nations heritage, which makes her one of the very few Mennonite writers of color. Her work is thus right in my scholarly wheelhouse. This poetry collection was nominated for the Governor General’s Award, which is the Canadian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, so it should be a good read.
Weaver-Zercher, David L. “Martyrs Mirror”: A Social History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016.
Thieleman J. van Braght’s Martyrs Mirror is the ur-text of Mennonite literature, and is a book that has fascinated me ever since I was a teenager. It remains an influential book in both the field of Mennonite literature and Mennonitism as a whole. I was thus especially excited to hear about Weaver-Zercher’s book, which is a history of both van Braght’s book itself and how readers have interacted with it.