Fresh off the Press – Dr. Rita Dirks set to publish new book

In the world of academia, where people come together to share ideas, Dr. Rita Dirks, Associate Professor of English at St. Mary’s University shines brightly as someone who is always eager to learn. Her new book Silence and Rage in Miriam Toews’s Mennonite Novels, released by Lexington/Rowman & Littlefield in 2024, shows just how passionate she is about exploring the fascinating depths of literature.

“My book is the first book-length study, about this Canadian author and her novels that focus on the Mennonite experience in Canada, Bolivia, and Mexico. Canadian Mennonite literature in itself is a fairly new phenomenon, so I wanted to explore something new and in-the-making.,” said Dr. Dirks.

“This is my first sole-author book; until now, I have published chapters in books with other authors. When I first started to read Toews’s books, I could not stop, and I knew I just had to write about her work. After publishing a few shorter pieces on Toews and speaking about her novels at conferences (as far away as Dublin, Ireland), a book kind of came together. It took about two years to write, plus nearly a year of editing. My editor has been amazing—from making suggestions on how to improve the text to asking me to rewrite and add text; nothing escaped her keen eye. The manuscript has gone through a few peer reviewers, has been proofread and indexed, and is now at the end of the “in-production” process. I have received the cover photo and ISBN number just in the last few weeks. I am very excited to see it in print in April.”

Not one to let inspiration pass her by, Dr. Dirks is already started on her next book and expects much of the writing to take place this summer.

If there were two things that Dr. Dirks would share with her students interested in publishing a book or other aspiring authors, the two tips would be to write and to travel.

“My encouragement to others would be to just start and then a sort of momentum takes over—you just want to keep on writing. Additionally, my advice would be to travel, to present at conferences, and meet other writers and scholars. Usually, at bigger conferences, publishers approach speakers right at the conference or shortly thereafter to see if the presenters would be interested in saying more about their topic.”