Tag Archives: Sofia Samatar

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copy Edition

The new semester begins on Monday. Over the past few months I have received desk copies of the following books for my courses (note that not all of the books I will be teaching are represented here).

For Written Communication II:

Darms, Lisa, ed. The Riot Grrrl Collection. New York: Feminist Press, 2013.

Heti, Sheila, et al. Women in Clothes. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2014.

This book is always a hit with students and is one of my favorite books ever. Everyone should read it.

For Introduction to Literature:

Palahniuk, Chuck. Fight Club. 1996. New York: W.W. Norton, 2018.

Rivera, Gabby. Juliet Takes a Breath. Riverdale, NY: Riverdale Avenue Books, 2016.

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

Schakel, Peter, and Jack Ridl, eds. 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014.

I love poetry but it has taken me an embarrassingly long time to learn how to teach it effectively. Now that I do, I have made it a goal to assign a poetry anthology in all of my literature classes.

For American Writers After 1865:

Dove, Rita, ed. The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry. 2011. New York: Penguin Books, 2013.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Other Stories. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.

Morrison, Toni. Beloved. 1987. New York: Vintage Books, 2004.

 

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Queering Mennonite Literature: Archiving, Activism, and the Search for Community

I am excited to announce that my book Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community has just been released by Penn State University Press!

Though the terms “queer” and “Mennonite” rarely come into theoretical or cultural contact, over the last several decades writers and scholars in the United States and Canada have built a body of queer Mennonite literature that shifts these identities into conversation. I bring this growing genre into a critical focus, bridging the gaps between queer theory, literary criticism, and Mennonite literature.

My analysis focuses on recent Mennonite-authored literary texts that espouse queer theoretical principles, including work by Christina Penner, Wes Funk, Jan Guenther Braun, Jessica Penner, Stephen Beachy, Corey Redekop, Casey Plett, Miriam Suzanne, and Sofia Samatar. Their books argue for the existence of a “queer Mennonite” identity on the basis of shared values: a commitment to social justice, a rejection of binaries, the importance of creative approaches to conflict resolution, and the practice of mutual aid, especially in resisting oppression. The book encourages those engaging with both Mennonite studies and queer studies to explore the opportunity for conversation and overlap between the two fields.

By arguing for engagement between these two identities and highlighting the aspects of Mennonitism that are inherently “queer,” the book gives much-needed attention to an emerging subfield of Mennonite literature. It makes a new and important intervention into the fields of queer theory, literary studies, Mennonite studies, and religious studies.

You can find Queering Mennonite Literature on the Penn State University Press web site at this URL: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-27-108245-5.html. You can get 30% off by using the code NR18. Please ask your local libraries, whether institutional or public, to order a copy.

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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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