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Miriam Toews grew up in a Mennonite community in Southern Manitoba. Her previous novels include The Flying Troutmans, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize, A Boy of Good Breeding and A Complicated Kindness, which won a host of awards. She lives in Toronto. She starred in the Mexican film Silent Light (Spanish: Luz silenciosa, 2007).
This book is shortlisted for the Folio Prize 2015. It is a Sunday Times Top Choice Summer Read. Elf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters. Elf is a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. When Elf's latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go. Miriam Toews' All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. The novel she has written - so exquisitely that you'll want to savour every word - reads as if it has been wrenched from her heart. (Christina Patterson, Sunday Times). [Miriam Toews] has produced a masterly book of such precise dignity. It is, also against all the odds, at times a desperately humorous novel. (Daily Mail). Toews takes her place alongside Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood and Mordicai Richler as the loveliest quintet of Canadian writing. (Los Angeles Times).
The stifling, reclusive life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth, recently married, and more recently deserted is turned on its head when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the strict religious community, in which she lives. When she clashes with her domineering father over her work as a translator for the crew, Irma is set on a path towards something that feels like freedom. Along with her younger sister Aggie, wise beyond her teenage years, she hits the road and flees to the city. Upheld only by their love for each other and their smart wit, the sisters finally gain the distance to understand the tragedy that has their family in its grip. Irma Voth delves into the complicated factors that set us on the road to self-discovery and how we can sometimes find the strength to endure the really hard things that happen. It also asks that most difficult of questions: How do we forgive? And most importantly, how do we forgive ourselves?.