5 Manitoba Mennonite Books to Read for ‘Banned Books Week’!

It’s Banned Books Week! Manitoba has been a hotbed for fabulous Mennonite writers and many of them have not been without controversy. While I can’t say that any of these books were officially banned anywhere that I know, they certainly stirred up significant controversy.

Why not read one of these fabulous classic works of edgy Menno lit this week!

  • A Year of Lesser by David Bergen
    • If you thought Steinbach came across poorly in A Complicated Kindness, you should check out how Niverville is described in David Bergen’s debut novel. Infidelity and intrigue in the town of Niverville…I mean Lesser.
  • Questions I Asked by Mother by Di Brandt
    • Turnstone Press of Winnipeg has been home to many amazing Mennonite novelists and poets. This powerhouse of poetry by Di Brandt of Reinland asks the questions we all had but were unwilling or unable to articulate. A new edition is available from Turnstone.
  • The Shunning by Patrick Friesen
    • Steinbach’s Patrick Friesen was an early voice of bold and honest Mennonite writing. In 1980 he gave us The Shunning, an epic poem that is harrowing and heartbreaking. A must read!
  • A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews
    • Miriam Toews skewers Steinbach, as East Village, in her most famous novel. I’m sure you’ve all read it, but perhaps it’s time to revisit this book that elicited quite a few angry letters to the newspaper.
  • The Salvation of Yasch Siemens by Armin Wiebe
    • It’s hard to believe that this hilarious Armin Wiebe novel generated controversy, but it was a different time. Rumours have it that the book was so controversial in Altona that boxes were sent back to the publisher. Soon after the local hardware store decided to carry the book and sold hundreds of copies. It was a hit! A brand new anniversary edition of the book has just been released by Turnstone.

It’s worth mentioning that although Rudy Wiebe is not a Manitoban, he was living in Winnipeg at the time of Peace Shall Destroy Many’s publication. It was so controversial in its day that he was asked to resign as editor of the MB Herald.

There’s a lot of great Menno lit out there, some of it edgy, some of it not, but a whole lot of it worth reading! I almost feel bad about limiting this list to so few books. Maybe the most controversial thing about this list is all the great books I left off. Ha ha. Enjoy the reading!

What are your favourite works of edgy Menno lit?