Works by Samuel Hofer



As a Hutterite youth, Samuel Hofer attended German and English schools up to Grade Eight. Outside school, he helped in the colony's garden and goose barn. After finishing school at age 15, he, like most young Hutterite men, went to work on the colony farm. His duties included running equipment such as the rock picker, manure spreader, backhoe, feed mixer, and cultivator, as well as working on numerous construction projects.

In his teens Samuel developed an interest in cartooning. This he had to do in secrecy because Hutterite religion forbids most artistic expression. Most of his cartoons depicted situations on the farm, the life he knew best. As a result of submitting cartoons to newspapers, his art caught the attention of the editor at The Western Producer, who purchased about 100 single-panel cartoons at $15 apiece. Beecause of increasing frustrations with having to keep his artistic potential to a minimum, and due to a deep desire to learn more about other cultures, he left the Hutterite lifestyle in 1983. His dream then was to become a comic strip artist.

Only a year later, realizing people's curiosity about Hutterite culture, Samuel began selling traditional Hutterite food recipes by mail-order while working on a chicken farm near Melville, Saskatchewan. His initial plan was to make enough money to quit his farm job and move to Saskatoon. But in Saskatoon, things weren't much better at first. A close friend was able to convince him to return to selling cookbooks. He began travelling across the Canadian prairies, selling his books to small-town drug stores, grocery stores, and gift stores. In 1986, he published The Hutterite Treasury of Recipes, of which he ultimately (from 1986 to 1992) sold 30,000 copies. Another book, How to Turn your Artwork and Cartoon into Cash, came in 1987. He released Soups & Borschts in 1988. At that time he was living in Red Deer, Alberta.

In 1989, back in Saskatoon, Samuel began writing fiction. Born Hutterite was his first book of stories based on the life he had known as a communal Hutterite. This was also the first ever fiction published by someone born and raised as a Hutterite. First published in 1991, it has sold more than 20,000 copies. Another cookbook, The Hutterite Community Cookbook, followed in 1992, and a novel, Dance like a Poor Man, in 1995.

Samuel, along with Mary Wipf of Sioux Falls, SD, was featured in the documentary film Born Hutterite, which received wide distribution, including repeated showings on PBS stations in the United States. The award-winning documentary was filmed and produced (1995-1996) by Black Hat productions, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada and the participation of Telefilm Canada.

Samuel is presently living near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he is continuing to write, and run Hofer Publishers. The Hutterites, Lives & Images of a Communal People, his most ambitious effort to date, was published in 1998. Another cookbook, A Feast of Perogies & Dumplings was also published in 1998.

Samuel's latest book is A Passion for Sauerkraut, published in 2000.


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