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CMU Press to launch new book about Mennonite woman’s refugee experience

Events, News Releases — By on November 30, 2015 2:48 pm

Author hopes book ‘will help readers enter into the lives of people who become refugees’

CMU Press is proud to announce the publication of its latest title, To and From Nowhere, written by Winnipeg author Hedy Leonora Martens.

In this gripping and moving novel, protagonist Greta Enns and her family struggle to exist in the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1976 after being displaced by Stalin along with thousands of Russian Germans, Mennonites, and other ethnic groups.

To and From Nowhere is the second of two books by Winnipeg writer Hedy Leonora Martens that tell the life story of Greta Enns.

To and From Nowhere is the second of two books by Winnipeg writer Hedy Leonora Martens that tell the life story of Greta Enns.

CMU Press and Martens will celebrate the publication of To and From Nowhere with a book launch on Monday, December 7 at 7:00 PM in the atrium at McNally Robinson (1120 Grant Ave.). Everyone is invited to attend this free event.

“I hope this book will help readers enter into the lives of people who become refugees,” Martens says, adding that it wasn’t just Mennonites that Stalin displaced.

“Many nationalities were exiled, torn from their homes, some of them never to return. They were wiped off the map as if they never existed, which is why the book is called To and From Nowhere.”

Greta was a real person who belonged to Martens’ extended family.

Based on painstaking historical research and interviews with Greta and her family, To and From Nowhere tells a harrowing and beautiful story in the unusual style that Martens has fused, combining narrative, biography, poetry, history, and personal reflection.

To and From Nowhere is the conclusion of a two-part project that began with the publication of Martens’ 2010 novel, Favoured Among Women, which the Winnipeg Free Press called a “detailed and touching portrait of a Mennonite woman during the harsh early years of Soviet Russia.”

Dr. Sue Sorensen, Associate Professor of English at CMU, served as editor for both Favoured Among Women and To and From Nowhere.

Sorensen calls the new book unique and adds that readers will gain insight into history—especially war—and at the same time be moved by the details of a real family’s day-to-day existence.

Martens, a retired family therapist, spent three decades working on Greta Enns’ story.

Martens, a retired family therapist, spent three decades working on Greta Enns’ story.

“In addition to that, you are drawn into the author’s process as she herself comments on her interactions with the material she is writing about,” Sorensen says. “There’s a beautiful resonance to all these different voices and writing styles living side-by-side in the book.”

Sorensen adds that Martens has a gift for bringing characters to life. “Because of Hedy’s skill I felt like I also had met Greta,” she says.

CMU Press is pleased to publish To and From Nowhere, says General Editor Dr. Paul Doerksen.

“Hedy has provided an invaluable contribution by bringing to view the experience of particular characters, allowing us to both witness and imagine some of the experiences which enable us to deepen our own understanding of historical circumstances, personal encounters, struggles of faith, and so on,” Doerksen says.

“While the book focuses on particularities, nonetheless it has the capacity to speak to a reading audience that is much broader than any single ethnic or religious group.”

Martens, a retired family therapist, recently celebrated her 80th birthday. She is looking forward to the December 7 book launch after working on Greta’s story for three decades.

“It feels really good to have completed this,” she says.

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2

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