This past fall, accomplished poet and fiction writer Sarah Klassen released her first novel, The Wittenbergs, to great acclaim. The novel was chosen as a favourite title of 2013 in the Winnipeg Free Press, whose reviewer called it "a simple but moving story about a Winnipeg Mennonite family's attempt to connect their past to their future."
The Winnipeg Review described the writing in The Wittenbergs as "powerful, incredibly lyrical, and the characters hard to shake." One of those hard to shake is the teenaged Mia Wittenberg, "a marvel of a character," according to Joan Thomas, whose love for reading is introduced in the first scene of the novel.
Mia has a special fondness for a particular play by Anton Chekhov, which is a fun connection to point out as Winnipeg welcomes Chekhovfest 2014: "Too exhilarated for sleep, Mia takes a book from her shelf, a play by Anton Chekhov. Uncle Vanya. She turns to the final scene, which she loves, reads it, then closes the book and sits down at her computer."
Sarah's most recent collection of poetry, Monstrance (2012), recently received praise from The Mennonite Quarterly Review (page 27, vol. 88, Jan. 2014). Reviewer Becca J.R. Lachman gets to the heart of the matter: "I believe urgent wonder sits as the core of her newest collection," adding, "when others are sleeping, Sarah Klassen is wide awake." Lachman calls Klassen a "notable mentor for current and future Mennonite-affiliated poets."
Sarah Klassen will be the featured Turnstone Author of the Month throughout February 2014.