How to pronounce Miriam Toews: Tayves
Miriam Toews was born in 1964 in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She left Steinbach at eighteen, living in Montreal and London and touring Europe before coming back to Manitoba, where she earned a B.A. in film studies at the University of Manitoba. Later she packed up with her children and partner and moved to Halifax to attend the University of King's College, where she received a bachelor's degree in journalism. Upon returning to Winnipeg with her family in 1991, she freelanced at the CBC, making radio documentaries. When her youngest daughter started nursery school, Toews decided it was time to try writing a novel.
Miriam Toews's first novel, Summer of My Amazing Luck, was published in 1996; it was nominated for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour and won the John Hirsch Award. Published two years later, her second novel, A Boy of Good Breeding, won the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. A Complicated Kindness, was a Giller Prize Finalist and won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction. Toews has also written for the CBC, This American Life (on National Public Radio), Saturday Night, Geist, Canadian Geographic, Open Letters and The New York Times Magazine, and she has won the National Magazine Award Gold Medal for Humour.
In an interview with Herizons magazine, Toews discusses the motif of the absent mother in both Summer of My Amazing Luck and A Complicated Kindness: "The relationship I have with my mother is so strong and loving and fun, that maybe I had to, in order to have a character who was working through something difficult, have her gone - dead, or missing, or whatever, just absent - in order to create that conflict for my character. And, to get all psychoanalytical about it, I've been trying to understand my father for a long time now, and I think that in my own life, growing up, etcetera, my mother was sort of this buffer between him and me, in that she kind of protected me from his sadness and tried to make life fun and upbeat all the time. So maybe, in order for my character to understand her father better, and assuming that my characters are in some ways me, that particular buffer has to be removed."
This biography was last updated on 10/03/2011.
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In the video below, Miriam Toews talks about her experiences growing up in a Mennonite community and how acting in Carlos Reygada's film Silent Light impacted her novel, Irma Voth.
Miriam Toews on Mennonitism, acting in the film Silent Light, and writing Irma Voth
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