A FINALIST FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD: A transformative and necessary work--as completely unexpected as it is inspired--by the award-winning author of the bestselling novels All My Puny Sorrows and A Complicated Kindness.
The sun rises on a quiet June morning in 2009. August Epp sits alone in the hayloft of a barn, anxiously bent over his notebook. He writes quickly, aware that his solitude will soon be broken. Eight women--ordinary grandmothers, mothers and teenagers; yet to August, each one extraordinary-- will climb the ladder into the loft, and the day's true task will begin. This task will be both simple and subversive: August, like the women, is a traditional Mennonite, and he has been asked to record a secret conversation.
Thus begins Miriam Toews' spellbinding novel. Gradually, as we hear the women's vivid voices console, tease, admonish, regale and debate each other, we piece together the reason for the gathering: they have forty-eight hours to make a life-altering choice on behalf of all the women and children in the colony. And like a vast night sky coming into view behind the bright sparks of their voices, we learn of the devastating events that have led to this moment.
Acerbic, funny, tender, sorrowful and wise, Women Talking is composed of equal parts humane love and deep anger. It is award-winning writer Miriam Toews' most astonishing novel to date, containing within its two short days and hayloft setting an expansive, timeless universe of thinking and feeling about women--and men--in our contemporary world.
MIRIAM TOEWS' most recent novel, the bestselling All My Puny Sorrows, was published in 2014 to wide acclaim. It won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Folio Prize and the Wellcome Book Prize, among other accolades. It also appeared on many year-end best-book lists, nationally and internationally. Toews is the author of five other bestselling novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness (winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, winner of Canada Reads, and a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize), The Flying Troutmans and Irma Voth, and one work of non-fiction, Swing Low: A Life. In addition to the awards mentioned above, she has also won the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Writers' Trust Marian Engel/Timothy Findley Award, and Italy's Sinbad Award for Fiction. Miriam Toews lives in Toronto.
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
FINALIST FOR THE 2018 GOVERNOR GENERAL'S LITERARY AWARD FOR FICTION
FINALIST FOR THE 2019 TRILLIUM BOOK AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
“Women Talking is an astonishment, a volcano of a novel with slowly and furiously mounting pressures of anguish and love and rage. No other book I’ve read in the past year has spoken so lucidly about our current moment, and yet none has felt as timeless; the always-wondrous Miriam Toews has written a book as close to a Greek tragedy as a contemporary Western novelist can come.” —Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and Florida
“Miriam Toews’s Women Talking is a flawless, ferocious work of art . . . [An] illuminating quest to comprehend the most vital contours of the human experience: what is agency, what is meaning, what is justice, what is love. This is the kind of novel that changes you. Get ready.” —Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“Miriam Toews has written a modern classic . . . real and warm and terrifying . . . It’s a perfect work of art.” —Catherine Lacey, author of The Answers and Nobody is Ever Missing
“I am in awe of this novel. In Toews’s brilliant design, eight women in a Mennonite hayloft tell a story that is terrifying, joyful, gruesome, and magnetic. What a reckoning—and what a gift.” —Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks
“Women Talking is not an easy book. Toews doesn’t hold back from presenting readers with the bloody truth of the abuse the women suffered, or . . . their enshrined acceptance of it. . . . As the women work through their options and ultimately reach a consensus, readers bear witness to their enlightenment and self-actualization. And that, when it happens, is a beautiful, hopeful thing to behold.” — Quill & Quire (starred review)
“[A] sharp blade of a novel. . . . Toews’s eviscerating fictionalization of this incendiary reality focuses not on the violence but, rather, on the keen, subversive intelligence of the Mennonite women, their philosophical casts of mind, clashing personalities, and deep concerns about family and faith.” —Booklist (starred review)
“[A]n inspiring and unforgettable novel.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An exquisite critique of patriarchal culture. . . . Stunningly original and altogether arresting.” —Kirkus Review (starred review)
“Toews proves brilliant at conveying character and relationships through dialogue, delineating each woman with loving precision. . . . The book’s language is Faulknerian. It has a timeless, universal quality.” —The Guardian
“Women Talking expands a small true story into a discussion of significance to all womankind. . . . Understated, insistent . . . Toews’s talents have never been showy. They lie in creating tiny, believable moments that make precise incisions in the centre of the human heart.” —The Globe and Mail
“Compelling. . . . Women Talking is no ordinary book, and even before hitting the shelves it’s got people talking. Some who received advance copies, including Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, have placed it firmly in the camp of feminist books that will become part of a canon that questions the patriarchy.” —Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star