The HSW Literary Agency



Darcie Friesen Hossack
photo: Lori-Anne Poirier
Twitter: @darciehossack

*Mennonites Don’t Dance Nominated for the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize
for Best First Book – Canada and the Caribbean*

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers, where she was mentored by Giller Prize finalist Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander, Children of the Day). Her stories have appeared in publications such as Half in the Sun (Ronsdale Press), an anthology of Mennonite literature; Rhubarb Magazine; and Prairie JournalMennonites Don’t Dance collects a number of these acclaimed tales, including “Year of the Grasshopper,” which was nominated for the prestigious Writers’ Trust of Canada/McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, and “Dandelion Wine” and “Ashes,” which were both finalists in UBC-Okanagan’s Okanagan Short Fiction Contest.

A Kelowna and Kamloops-area food columnist for the past six years, Darcie is currently working on a novel titled What Looks In, which explores the spiritual abuse and deliverance of a family divided by grief and Protestantism.

Works on Offer:

What Looks In

Fourteen-year-old Lizzy Schiltz lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, the daughter of a Mennonite mother and Seventh Day Adventist father. Raised in her father’s tradition of Sabbath-keeping and vegetarianism, Lizzy and her younger brother, Zach, go to church every Saturday and attend private school at the Adventist academy down the road. There they learn math, science and social studies, along with teachings from the church’s 19th century prophet, a woman who suffered a head injury before beginning to speak God’s word. Lizzy’s life seems as protected as leftovers in a Tupperware bowl, but lately she feels as though she’s running out of air.
Tending towards extremes in both moods and matters of religion, Lizzy’s father Simon finds the world pressing in on the walls he works to create. When he meets the green-suited leader of the Still Water Adventist Commune, Simon believes he’s found a refuge from the influences at their doorstep. Although the rest of the family doesn’t share his conviction, Simon is determined. Either they will agree to go, or he will decide for them.
But when the car Simon is driving plunges into a lake, killing his wife and voice of reason, Simon winds himself into a cocoon of depression and leaves Lizzy to fill the vacuum left behind by her mother.
Then one day, Lizzy acts her age, taking her roller skates to the rink on Highway 97, where they play rock videos and sell hot dogs and cups of sugary blue slush—and within weeks, she and what remains of her family become Still Water Commune’s newest residents.
As far as Lizzy can tell, there’s no going back. Not even after she discovers her brother spending time with an older boy who likes to start fires, whose destructive habits are overlooked because he seems to have a gift for interpreting prophesy.
When Lizzy is burned while extinguishing a fire set by her brother, Lizzy makes a decision. With her father unwilling to be parted from his spiritual haven, she steals a jar of money from the kitchen and packs two eggless egg salad sandwiches into a paper bag. She and Zach hitch a ride to the nearest Greyhound Bus Depot where they buy a pair of tickets to Saskatchewan and the Mennonite aunt and uncle waiting to introduce them to the life their mother left behind.

Manuscript forthcoming
Rights: World 

Mennonites Don’t Dance
Thistledown Press, September 2010

*A Globe and Mail 2011 Best First Fiction selection and the runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award*

Mennonites Don't Dance stories is a collection of eleven short stories, each set on the Canadian prairies where Darcie Friesen Hossack spent her childhood. Together the stories form a picture of family, often torn apart at the seams. They explore the ties between young and grown children and their parents and grandparents, generational sins and redemption.

Manuscript available
Rights available: Thistledown Press has world, HSW Literary Agency is selling

Praise for Mennonites Don’t Dance:

“There’s an unfussy purity of expression here, and of narrative control, that sometimes recalls the short fiction of Alistair MacLeod. Images come cleanly to the mind’s eye while the prose itself recedes. The other MacLeodian element is Hossack’s stealthy way with emotion. She never tells you how to feel. When you do find your heart opening to these characters, it rises from their authenticity, and a sure authorial hand with the interplay of surprise and inevitability.”

-- The Globe and Mail

“This slender book of 11 short stories is a complex treasure. Each story is wrapped in themes of anger, guilt and the Mennonite work ethic. Thankfully, the jagged edges of this treasure are gilded, occasionally, with grace and hope….[Hossack’s] writing is crisp, evocative and spellbinding, her characters and plots strong….With black humour and shrewd wit, [the stories] explore family relationships….Hossack's writing may remind readers of Manitoba-born Mennonite authors Patrick Friesen and Miriam Toews. Like The Shunning and A Complicated Kindness, the stories here illuminate the sad reality that not all of Mennonite religion and culture is healthy. And no family is easy.”

-- The Winnipeg Free Press

“Hossack captures well the mien of the descendants of the early Mennonite settlers in southern Saskatchewan faced with struggle after struggle to survive, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, not realizing they have choices about attitude even when they seem to be losing….These people, like the kittens in one story, suffocate and die when confined or break like delicate teacups when dropped. Yet there is a near-hidden shining to them. Mixed in with their frailties are love of family, prayer, thankfulness, generosity, faith and the ability to forgive even the ugliest actions, even murder….”

-- Mennonite Weekly Review

Mennonites Don’t Dance is a collection of stories that provide a peek into the lives of a culture.  Hossack has written these with compassion and eloquence.  I urge you to pick up a copy of this book and become acquainted with characters described so close to the bone you will be unable to separate them from small pieces of yourself.”

-- The Calgary Beacon

“Mennonites Don’t Dance is an impeccably crafted debut....Hossack writes prose that is unadorned and honest, like the Men­nonites she features. There are no linguistic pyrotechnics here, but a simple grace in the way she uses language. The climactic scenes of these stories would be very much reduced in impact if florid, poetic prose weaseled its way in. A clean, direct sentence is often best, and Hossack seems to know exactly when and where to place one.”


“This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together…. Hossack’s talent, honed through education and experience, is showcased in this polished collection, and is reflected in the relatable, realistic characters and situations she creates.”

-- Pearl Luke, author of Commonwealth Prize-winning Burning Ground, for

“Darcie Hossack’s stories reverberate with what has been left unsaid, the silence between people that speaks of betrayal, forgiveness, and the power of love to prevail. This is a fine debut by a very promising writer.”

-- Sandra Birdsell, author of Children of the Day

“Uncompromising and often devastating, the stories in this collection prove the title true—both literally and metaphorically—but these very constraints make the stories’ hard-won moments of joy and insight especially memorable. A vivid, breathtaking book.”

-- Andreas Schroeder, author of Shaking it Rough and Scams, Scandals and Skulduggery

“Darcie Hossack introduces a culture in which dancing is verboten but the sensual pleasures of food are celebrated with artery-clogging abandon; life is cruel but rich in moments of grace. With unflinching honesty, black humour and compassion, she serves up prose as richly palatable as cream gravy.”

-- Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Delivery