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Celebrating Mennonite Literature 2014-2015

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Are you interested in hearing significant Canadian writers talk about how their writing sensibilities, their careers, and their Mennonite heritage intersect? Building on its successful 2012 reading series, “Mennonite/s Writing: Celebrating the First 50 Years,” Conrad Grebel University College is pleased to present “Mennonite/s Writing 2014-2015,” a seven session reading series showcasing new work by some of the most prominent authors in the field, including: Rudy Wiebe, Jeff Gundy, Miriam Toews, Patrick Friesen, Di Brandt, David Bergen, and Carrie Snyder. The authors will offer a combined reading/commentary meant to take the audience on a journey that traces how the writer's Mennonite heritage contributed to shaping his or her literary sensibility.

On Wednesday, October 29th, two-time Governor General’s Award winner Rudy Wiebe will read from his newly released novel Come Back. Wiebe’s powerful new book follows Hal Wiens—a character first introduced as a teenager in Wiebe’s 1962 novel Peace Shall Destroy Many, now a retired professor in Edmonton—as he grapples with the ongoing legacy of his son’s suicide.

On Friday, November 14th, U.S. poet and essayist Jeff Gundy will read from his new book of poetry, Circling Defiance, as the second night of this year’s Bechtel Lectures. A key writer in the growing field of “theo-poetics” and an established figure in Mennonite studies, Gundy’s new book extends his ongoing exploration of human nature and the natural world in his signature mix of humour and insight.  

On Wednesday, November 26th, Grebel will host Miriam Toews for the first time, as she reads from her bestselling new novel All My Puny Sorrows. Winner of the Governor General’s Award for A Complicated Kindness, Toews’ most recent novel returns to a cast of Mennonites with a tight-knit family wrestling through urgent questions of life, death, and the power to choose.

On Wednesday, January 21st, BC-based poet Patrick Friesen will return to Grebel to read from his forthcoming book of poems, A Short History of Crazy Bone. Author of fifteen books of poetry and recent winner of ReLit Award, Friesen’s work consistently challenges—and rewards—readers with its beautiful exploration of faith, experience, and language itself.

On Wednesday, February 4th, Di Brandt will read from a collection of poems in progress. The dynamic author of more than a dozen celebrated books of poetry, criticism, and fiction, Brandt currently teaches Canadian Literature and Creative Writing at Brandon University, and is the Manitoba Public Libraries Writer-in-Residence for 2014-2015.

On Wednesday, February 18th, Winnipeg-based author David Bergen will read from his new book Leaving Tomorrow. Author of seven previous novels, including the Giller Prize winning The Time in Between, and bestselling The Age of Hope, Bergen’s latest novel moves from small-town Alberta to Paris and back again, powerfully exploring the paradoxes of home, faith, and the need to belong.

On Wednesday, March 4th, the series will conclude with Grebel alumnus Carrie Snyder, whose last work, The Juliet Stories, was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. Snyder’s much-anticipated new novel, Girl Runner, tells the story of an Olympic runner and a forgotten period of Canada’s past, and is set to be released across the US, the UK, and Australia in 2015, and in translation in across Europe and South America. 

The winter 2015 evening series, which celebrates and builds on a decades-long association between the college and Mennonite/s writing in Canada, will be hosted by Robert Zacharias, Assistant Editor of The Journal of Mennonite Studies and Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the English Department at the University of Waterloo. He is author of Rewriting the Break Event: Mennonites and Migration in Canadian Literature, and editor of After Identity: Mennonite/s Writing in North America, forthcoming from Penn State UP.

This Mennonite/s Writing series at Conrad Grebel, which promises seven evenings of compelling literature with some of Canada’s most celebrated authors, is an exciting opportunity for readers and book clubs alike.

Gather your reading family, friends and book club members and join us in the Grebel Chapel on the specified dates at 7:30pm this winter, to hear these distinctive and important voices that speak to the contemporary Mennonite experience.

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Multimedia Videos

watch past lectures

Watch our special event videos: the Bechtel LecturesMennonite Literature series, the Eby Lecture, and the Sawatsky Lecture.

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