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Fiction Literary

Fight Night

by (author) Miriam Toews

Knopf Canada
Initial publish date
Aug 2021
Literary, Family Life, Black Humor
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2021
    List Price

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The beloved author of bestsellers Women Talking, All My Puny Sorrows, and A Complicated Kindness returns with a funny, smart, headlong rush of a novel full of wit, flawless writing, and a tribute to perseverance and love in an unusual family.
Fight Night is told in the unforgettable voice of Swiv, a nine-year-old living in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is raising Swiv while caring for her own elderly, frail, yet extraordinarily lively mother. When Swiv is expelled from school, Grandma takes on the role of teacher and gives her the task of writing to Swiv's absent father about life in the household during the last trimester of the pregnancy. In turn, Swiv gives Grandma an assignment: to write a letter to "Gord," her unborn grandchild (and Swiv's soon-to-be brother or sister). "You’re a small thing," Grandma writes to Gord, "and you must learn to fight."

As Swiv records her thoughts and observations, Fight Night unspools the pain, love, laughter, and above all, will to live a good life across three generations of women in a close-knit family. But it is Swiv’s exasperating, wise and irrepressible Grandma who is at the heart of this novel: someone who knows intimately what it costs to survive in this world, yet has found a way—painfully, joyously, ferociously—to love and fight to the end, on her own terms.

About the author

Miriam Toews is the author of two previous award-winning novels, Summer of My Amazing Luck and A Boy of Good Breeding, as well as the memoir Swing Low: A Life. She contributes frequently to CBC Radio, National Public Radio, and the New York Times Magazine, and has received a gold medal in the National Magazine Awards for humour.

Miriam Toews' profile page


  • Short-listed, Scotiabank Giller Prize
  • Short-listed, Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize

Editorial Reviews


"Miriam Toews does not disappoint with her latest outing. Fight Night is a novel well-conceived and executed with prose that is powerful and subtle in equal measure—the weight of a lightly crafted sentence will, after a second’s suspension, come back with a punch. We’re given a unique and quirky take on the world through the eyes of precocious nine-year-old Swiv. Swiv's observations, sometime hilarious, sometimes poignant, illustrate the lives of her mother and grandmother with a careful balance of wit, irony, dark humour, and philosophical musings. Fight Night is a thoughtful and thoroughly enjoyable read about women and girls navigating the world together." —2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Jury (Rebecca Fisseha, Michelle Good, and Steven Price)

“In Fight Night, as in her previous books, Miriam Toews is a genius. Her gigantic mind and heart are singular; her sentence-making powers extraordinary. Living in a time when Toews is writing is a reason to rejoice.” —R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries

"Tender, heart-wrenching, darkly funny, and ultimately joyful, [Fight Night] pulses with life.”Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of The Exiles and Orphan Train
“[A] charming, open-hearted book . . . Funny and sad and exquisitely tender.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Fierce and funny . . . gives undeniable testimony to the life force of family. It’s a knockout.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] joyful, powerful, philosophical book. . . . It’s a profound affirmation of storytelling as a life force. . . . While life can be and is hard . . . what becomes obvious in Fight Night is that love wins out over everything.” —Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star

“[In] the weeks since I finished [Fight Night], I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Because I [fell] in love—hard. . . . [Y]ou become so sucked into this fictional world that you forget everything else. . . . Fight Night’s Elvira is also an incredible, relentless resilient life force. Readers will fall in love with her this summer—and long afterward.” —Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail

“Fight Night is nearly all tenderness. . . . [T]here’s great pathos in watching a writer as gifted as Toews turn the same losses over and over as if looking for some way to redeem them on the page, knowing all the while that there isn’t. She admits as much in an observation lent to Swiv, who bristles against attempts by authority figures to domesticate her language: ‘It doesn’t matter what words you use in life, it’s not gonna prevent you from suffering.’” —Bookforum

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