Miriam Toews Popular Books

Miriam Toews Biography & Facts

Miriam Toews ( (listen); born 1964) is a Canadian writer and author of nine books, including A Complicated Kindness (2004), All My Puny Sorrows (2014), and Women Talking (2018). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Governor General's Award for Fiction and the Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award for her body of work. Toews is also a three-time finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a two-time winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Toews had a leading role in the feature film Silent Light, written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas, and winner of the 2007 Cannes Jury Prize, an experience that informed her fifth novel, Irma Voth (2011). Early life Toews grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada the second daughter of Mennonite parents, both part of the Kleine Gemeinde. Through her father, Melvin C. Toews, she is a direct descendant of one of Steinbach's first settlers, Klaas R. Reimer (1837–1906), who arrived in Manitoba in 1874 from Ukraine. Her mother, Elvira Loewen, is a daughter of the late C. T. Loewen, an entrepreneur who founded a lumber business that would become Loewen Windows. As a teenager, Toews rode horses and took part in provincial dressage and barrel-racing competitions and attended high school at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School. She left Steinbach at eighteen, living in Montreal and London before settling in Winnipeg. She has a B.A. in Film Studies from the University of Manitoba, and a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of King's College, Halifax. Career Early work Toews wrote her first novel, Summer of My Amazing Luck (1996), while working as a freelance journalist. The novel explores the evolving friendship of two single mothers in a Winnipeg public housing complex. The novel was developed from a documentary that Toews was preparing for CBC Radio on the subject of welfare mothers. It was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. Toews won the latter prize with her second novel, A Boy of Good Breeding (1998). Toews has written for CBC's WireTap, Canadian Geographic, Geist, The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Intelligent Life, and Saturday Night. In 1999, she won a National Magazine Award Gold Medal for Humour. She is the author of The X Letters, a series of personal dispatches addressed to the father of her son, which were featured on This American Life in an episode about missing parents.Toews' father died by suicide in 1998. His death inspired Toews to write a memoir in her father's voice, Swing Low: A Life. The book was greeted as an instant classic in the modern literature on mental illness, and it won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. A Complicated Kindness Toews' third novel, A Complicated Kindness (2004), is set in East Village, a small religious Mennonite town much like her native Steinbach. The narrator is Nomi Nickel, a curious, defiant, sardonic sixteen-year-old who dreams of hanging out with Lou Reed in the 'real' East Village of New York City. She lives alone with her doleful father, after the departure of her older sister and the unexplained disappearance of her mother. Unlike her father, who is a dutiful member of the church, Nomi is rebellious by nature, and her questioning brings her into conflict with the town's various authorities, most notably Hans Rosenfeldt, the sanctimonious church pastor.A Complicated Kindness was highly acclaimed nationally and internationally, with the character of Nomi Nickel invoking comparisons to J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield. It won the 2004 Governor General's Award for Fiction, described by the jury as "an unforgettable coming-of-age story... melancholic and hopeful, as beautifully complicated as life itself." It was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. The novel was selected for the 2006 edition of Canada Reads, the first book by a female writer to win the competition. The Flying Troutmans The Flying Troutmans (2008) is a road-trip novel narrated by 28-year-old Hattie, who takes charge of her teenage niece and nephew after her sister Min is admitted to a psychiatric ward. Overwhelmed by the responsibility, Hattie enacts an ill-conceived plan to find the kids' long-lost father in California. The novel was awarded the 2008 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. The jury described the novel as "a love song to young people trying to navigate the volcanic world of adult emotions." The novel was also longlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction, and named a Globe and Mail Best Book. Irma Voth and Silent Light With her fifth novel, Irma Voth (2011), Toews returned to the Mennonite community to re-examine the ways in which religious communities can limit personal freedom, and how belonging can turn to estrangement when old and new value systems clash. The novel opens in an old order Mennonite settlement in Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert. Nineteen-year-old Irma Voth has been banished to a neighbouring farm by her strict, religious father after secretly marrying a non-Mennonite Mexican. Her new husband disappears into the drug trade and Irma is left alone to tend to the farm. Her world is transformed when a filmmaker from Mexico City arrives to make a film about Mennonites. Irma is hired as a translator for the film's female protagonist, and her involvement with the wildly creative film crew brings her into dangerous conflict with her father, while at the same time helping her better understand her place in the world. When her father's violence escalates and the tragedy that has haunted her family begins to surface, Irma receives the blessing of her mother to flee the encampment, and to take her two younger sisters with her, one of whom is an infant. They eventually settle in Mexico City, where the two older sisters must embrace the ways of the city in order to survive and raise their infant sister.Toews has said that Irma Voth was inspired in part by her experience in playing a lead role in Silent Light, the 2007 film written and directed by Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas. Reygadas invited Toews to do a screen test for the role of Esther, a conservative Mennonite wife, after reading her third novel, A Complicated Kindness, and seeing her author photo on the back flap of the book. The film was shot in Plautdietsch, a language neither the director nor Toews fully understood. Toews worked with her mother, a native speaker of Plautdietsch, to deliver her lines phonetically. The film won a number of international awards, including the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Toews was nominated for Best Actress at Mexico's Ariel Awards for her performance, one of nine nominations for the film.Filmed in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, the film depicts the same Mennonite community that features in Toews' novel. "Irma Voth a.... Discover the Miriam Toews popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Miriam Toews books.

Best Seller Miriam Toews Books of 2023

  • Irma Voth synopsis, comments

    Irma Voth

    Miriam Toews

    "The nicely drawn contrast between what Irma knows and suspects and what the reader understands about her world gives Irma Voth a suspenseful charge from the first pages.” Jane Smi...

  • Envy synopsis, comments


    Judy Corbett

    What happens when your beloved only daughter's friend turns out to be a destructive cuckoo in the nest? When girlish charm turns to seduction and teenage friendship to manipulation...

  • Married Past Redemption synopsis, comments

    Married Past Redemption

    Stanley Middleton

    From the BookerPrizewinning author of Holiday. Rejacketed and reissued by Windmill to mark the 40th anniversary of Middleton's Booker Prize win.David and Alison are a successful yo...

  • You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine synopsis, comments

    You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine

    Alexandra Kleeman

    “A powerful allegory of our civilization’s many maladies, artfully and elegantly articulated, by one of the young wise women of our generation.” New York Times Book ReviewAn intell...

  • Run Me to Earth synopsis, comments

    Run Me to Earth

    Paul Yoon

    From awardwinning author Paul Yoon comes a “spellbinding” (The Washington Post) novel about three kids orphaned in 1960s Laosand how their destinies are entwined across decades, an...

  • Lives Lived, Lives Imagined synopsis, comments

    Lives Lived, Lives Imagined

    Sabrina Reed

    Perceptive, controversial, topical, and achingly funny, Miriam Toews’s books have earned her a place at the forefront of Canadian literature. In this first monograph on Toews’s wor...

  • Plain Tales from the Hills synopsis, comments

    Plain Tales from the Hills

    Rudyard Kipling

    Originally written for the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette, the stories were intended for a provincial readership familiar with the pleasures and miseries of colonial life. For t...

  • Watermelon Syrup synopsis, comments

    Watermelon Syrup

    Annie Jacobsen, Jane Finlay-Young & Di Brandt

    Lexi, a young Mennonite woman from Saskatchewan, comes to work as housekeeper and nanny for a doctor’s family in Waterloo, Ontario, during the Great Depression. Dr. Gerald Oliver i...

  • The Atmospherians synopsis, comments

    The Atmospherians

    Alex McElroy

    Best Book of 2021 by Esquire Book You Need to Read in 2021 by Harper’​s Bazaar“Darkly funny and glitteringly satirical, The Atmospherians unforgettably takes aim at wokeness, well...