Five things Friday Roundup: Mennonite-adjacent novels for summer reading

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1.  The White Mosque

Sofia Samatar’s newest work, The White Mosque: A Memoir (Catapult), explores her travels through Uzbekistan. Join Samatar, a child of a Somali Muslim father and a Swiss German Mennonite mother, as she retraces the path of 19th century Mennonites to the city of Samarkand, where they established a Mennonite church, hence “white mosque.” Samatar’s storytelling explores themes of identity, culture and adventure.  

2. Shaken in the Water

Jessica Penner’s Shaken in the Water (WorkPlay Publishing) brings Mennonite culture into the realm of magical realism. In 1903, Agnes is born with a birthmark known as the tiger scar, a mark that, according to lore rooted in the Molotschna (Mennonite) Colony in Ukraine, heralds either greatness or tragedy. Follow Ana on a multigenerational journey that explores meanings of greatness through stories that reveal the complex nature of relationship, community and religious imaginations.

3. Nightbitch

Rachel Yoder’s Nightbitch (Doubleday) is the story of a mother who decides to pause her career to stay at home with her newborn child. While her husband is away on business trips, she slowly begins to transform – she grows hair in strange places, her canines seem sharper, etc. As her symptoms develop, she has a hard time hiding her dog-like impulses. And this is just the start of a story that includes a magical tome and a seemingly secret society of moms.

4. Little Fish

Casey Plett’s Little Fish (Arsenal Pulp Press) tells the story of Wendy, a 30-year-old trans woman who discovers that her devout Mennonite grandfather may also have been transgender. As Wendy and her friend group struggle with alcoholism, suicidal ideation and sex work, Wendy is slowly drawn toward learning more about her grandfather’s hidden life.

5. Ventus

Karl Schroder, futurist and prolific author of sci-fi novels, grew up in a Mennonite community in Manitoba. His work Ventus (Tor Books) is a classic sci-fi interplanetary adventure. Schroder builds fantastic worlds that explore themes of class, AI and the future. 

Jason Storbakken

Jason Storbakken serves as pastor at Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship (ACC, MCUSA), and president and cofounder of Brooklyn Peace Center. He Read More

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