Tag Archives: Sofia Samatar

Books Acquired Recently

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Mennonite speculative fiction writer Sofia Samatar recently, including reading through lots of her interviews (a list of them is on her website). Interviewers often ask her about books she’s read lately and I’ve almost always never heard of them, so I try to buy the ones that sound interesting or helpful for my own work. These three books are examples of this gleaning.

Martin, Douglas A. Acker. New York: Nightboat Books, 2017.

I like Kathy Acker’s writing, and this book is blurbed by Maggie Nelson and Wayne Koestenbaum, two queer writers whose work I enjoy, so I am especially excited to read it.

Valente, Catherynne M. Palimpsest. New York: Bantam Books, 2009.

The premise of this novel is apparently that you have to have sex in order to enter the city where it takes place.

Zambreno, Kate. Heroines. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2012.

This book is about the wives of famous authors. I’m always interested in books that investigate the margins.

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Books Acquired Recently: Cincinnati Edition

This weekend I went to the Cincinnati Mennonite Arts Weekend for the first time. It was so much fun! Of course I bought some books. I also visited the Half Price Books near my hotel, where I purchased Roberts’, Brown’s, and Sohl’s texts.

Brown, Rita Mae. Poems. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1987.

I love Brown’s classic lesbian novel Rubyfruit Jungle, but am unfamiliar with her poetry. I got this copy of her early poems in excellent shape for only $5.48.

Lachman, Becca J.R. Other Acreage. Boston: Gold Wake Press, 2015.

Lachman was one of the featured speakers at the event, and I was able to have my copy of her book signed, something that is still always exciting!

Roberts, JR. Black Lesbians: An Annotated Bibliography. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1981.

I bought this book simply for archiving purposes because I love old books. It’s in great shape and I got it for only $2.98. It is an excellent example of the hugely important preservation and recovery work undertaken by feminists and queers in the 1970s and early 1980s that got published by tiny independent presses because large publishers assumed (often incorrectly) that there was not a market for it.

Samatar, Del, and Sofia Samatar. Monster Portraits. Brookline, MA: Rose Metal Press, 2018.

I am friends with Sofia Samatar and hanging out with her was one of the highlights of my weekend. Her new book, which includes artwork by her brother that she then responds to in prose, is officially coming out later this month, but she had some copies with her for sale.

Sohl, Jerry. Night Slaves. Greenwich, CT: Gold Medal Books, 1965.

Half Price Books had a rack at the front of the store full of old pulp fiction paperbacks. I bought this one for $3.00 because it sounds kinky: the villain keeps the inhabitants of a planet hypnotized and the hero has to try to stop him.

Wideman, Johnny. This Will Lead to Dancing. Stouffville, ON: Theatre of the Beat, 2014.

—. To Aid Digestion: A Collection of Short Stories and Poems. Stouffville, ON: Theatre of the Beat, 2017.

I had never heard of Theatre of the Beat, a Mennonite acting troupe, but they gave an amazing, moving performance of This Will Lead to Dancing on Saturday afternoon. Their work is focused on queer issues, and is thus immediately relevant to my scholarship on queer Mennonite literature.

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Books Acquired Recently

Fitzpatrick, Cat, and Casey Plett, ed. Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy from Transgender Writers. New York: Topside Press, 2017.

Plett recently sent me a review copy of this anthology, which comes out in September. It is massive, nearly 500 pages in length. I love the work that Topside publishes and am very much looking forward to reading it.

Fox, Rose, and Daniel José Older, ed. Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. Framingham, MA: Crossed Genres Publications, 2014.

Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. 1969. Trans. Denys Johnson-Davies. New York: New York Review Books, 2009.

I bought these two books from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers after reading about them in this interview with Sofia Samatar. I love Long Hidden‘s concept of gathering stories in an intersectional manner from various minority groups rather than just focusing on a specific group. This anthological practice is a rare one which I wish was more common.

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Books Acquired Recently

Mast, Carrie A., and Gerald J. Mast, ed. Human Sexuality in Biblical Perspective: A Study Guide. Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2016.

I bought this book because I am slowly working on a book about queer Mennonite literature, and while the book has a literary focus rather than a theological one, it is also important for me to be aware of the current state of theological Mennonite discussions about sexuality. Cascadia has published several books on this issue over the years and they have generally been thought-provoking, so I look forward to reading this text.

Samatar, Sofia. Tender: Stories. Easthampton, MA: Small Beer Press, 2017.

Samatar is one of the most prolific of the younger generation of Mennonite writers. I enjoyed her two novels (especially her second, The Winged Histories), and was delighted when I heard that she was coming out with a book of short stories. I pre-ordered it from amazon.com (where I also got the Masts’ book) and it arrived a few days ago.

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Book Acquired Recently: Keith Miller’s The Sins of Angels

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.

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Books Acquired Recently

I’ve been letting my book-buying addiction get the best of me lately, as I’ve ordered about ten books in last week or so. Here is what has come in thus far:

Clare, Eli. Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation. 1999. Durham: Duke UP, 2015.

Halberstam, Judith. The Queer Art of Failure. Durham: Duke UP, 2011.

I have been wanting to read more queer theory lately, and then I received an email from Duke University Press (the premier academic publisher of queer texts) that they were have a 30% off sale. Both of these books sounded interesting and relevant to some projects that I’m working on, so I decided to buy them.

Mukherjee, Neel. A Life Apart. 2008. New York: Norton, 2016.

I read a review of this novel in the New Yorker last week and it sounded quite fascinating (apparently much of it takes place in men’s restrooms as the narrator tries to find partners for sex). A few days ago a friend took me book shopping for my birthday, and this is what I chose.

Samatar, Sofia. The Winged Histories. Easthampton: Small Beer, 2016.

Samatar is one of the few Mennonite writers writing speculative fiction. Her new novel just came out and I can’t wait to read it!

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Books Acquired Recently

Castillo, Ana. Give It To Me. New York: Feminist, 2014.

I read the first draft of this book when Castillo and I were colleagues at Westminster College for a semester and loved it. It is sexy, humorous, and scandalous. I bought it as soon as I found out it had been released.

This, Plett’s, and Samatar’s books were acquired from amazon.com’s network of independent sellers.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment. Boston: Shambhala, 2010.

I have been struggling to stay in the present recently and was feeling the need for some guidance about how to do so. I came across this book in the “Eastern Religions” section of my local Barnes & Noble and decided to buy it in part because it sounded like what I was looking for and in part because I have had a number of friends recommend Hanh’s writing to me. I have read the first few chapters, which have been fantastic.

Larkin, Philip. Collected Poems. Ed. Anthony Thwaite. New York: Farrar, 2004.

I’ve been meaning to read Larkin for quite some time, and have not read any poetry for a while, so earlier this week when I was in the campus bookstore checking to see whether the books for my courses had come in and I saw that one of my colleagues has assigned this book for one of his courses I bought it.

Pashley, Jennifer. The Conjurer. Syracuse: Standing Stone, 2013.

I received this as a belated holiday gift. I really enjoyed Pashley’s other collection of stories, States, so I am eager to read this one.

Plett, Casey. A Safe Girl To Love. New York: Topside, 2014.

I was super-excited to buy this book, as I have read and enjoyed several of Plett’s short stories. I read through it in one sitting last night. It is excellent writing, though emotionally draining (which are not necessarily mutually exclusive characteristics).

Samatar, Sofia. A Stranger in Olondria: Being the Complete Memoirs of the Mystic, Jevick of Tyom. Easthampton: Small Beer, 2013.

I recently heard about this book via my alma mater Goshen College’s alumni magazine. Samatar is also a Goshen grad. Very little Mennonite literature (Goshen is a Mennonite school and Samatar was raised Mennonite) is written in the fantasy genre, so this is an important addition to the field.

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