Meet the author: Miriam Toews

Fri 01.12.2023
20:00 - 21:30
Miriam Toews copyright Jaime Hogge
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meet the author, interview


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in english

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We are happy to announce that Canadian novelist Miriam Toews, who won international acclaim after the fantastic film adaptation of Women Talking, will be visiting Passa Porta to present her new novel, Fight Night (which by sheer coincidence is being released in Dutch and French at the same time).

How could we forget Women Talking, the formidable book behind Sarah Polley’s Oscar-winning film of 2022 starring Rooney Mara. Set in a religious colony cut off from the outside world, the novel takes place over 48 hours as the women gather to decide their own fate after a series of rapes in their community. Inspired by a true story, this stunning novel is about how, together, women can free themselves from whatever holds them back.

A Canadian essayist and novelist born into a Mennonite community in Manitoba, Miriam Toews left her hometown at the age of 18 for Montreal and London. After studying film and journalism, she wrote her first novel while working as a radio host. In Swing low: A Life, she tells the story of her father, who suffered from a bipolar psychosis that led to his suicide.

It is with her third novel, A Complicated Kindness, that she broke through, the book spending more than a year on the Canadian bestseller list and winning the Governor General’s Award for English Fiction. A few years later, All My Puny Sorrows, based on the true story of her sister’s suicide, was hailed as one of the best books of the year by Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Globe and Mail, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, among others.

A writer for Geist, The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, Intelligent Life and Granta, she is now releasing a hard-hitting new novel, Fight Night. It tells the story of nine-year-old Swiv, who is expelled from school after being involved in a fight. With an absent father and a pregnant mother preoccupied with her theatre rehearsals, Swiv’s education is left to her grandmother, Elvira. The cunning and sprightly Elvira passes on her knowledge through unorthodox life lessons. During an impromptu trip to California, the offbeat grandmother opens up to Swiv and reveals what fighting really means for generations of women, even in times of peace.

Miriam Toews will be talking to journalist Annelies Beck about some of her favourite themes, such as mental health, the ‘other story’ of women that she is crafting in each successive book, and the subtle balance between tragedy and drama that she excels at once again in this novel, which is carried entirely by a child’s compelling and rebellious voice.

‘A gem of a book, sharp edged and shining, a paean to the strength of women that posits humour and hope as a choice in the face of suffering.’
The Guardian

About the author

Miriam Toews was born in a Mennonite community in Manitoba, Canada, in 1964. She is the author of All My Puny Sorrows and Women Talking (a worldwide bestseller), and has won numerous literary prizes including the Governor General’s Award for A Complicated Kindness.

About the moderator

AnneliesBeck (b. 1973) is a Belgian writer and journalist (for the Dutch-language news programme Terzake). She studied history in Ghent and Brazilian studies in London. She has published two novels, Over het kanaal and Toekomstkoorts, and is currently working on her third.

Org. Passa Porta

picture Miriam Toews © Jaime Hogge, Annelies Beck © Eveline Renaud