“In writing fiction I can be free,” says author Miriam Toews, explaining why she wrote a novel, not a memoir, about her beloved sister’s suicide. “All the raw material is true, but this way, I can set the tone, the voice, the pace. I can embellish. I can exaggerate. I can create.”
All My Puny Sorrows is “a funny novel honouring deep sadness,” writes The Globe and Mail of Miriam’s latest book. A joyful story about sisterhood and compassion, it’s also a sombre meditation on suicidal thoughts.
Miriam knows only too well the anguish of grappling with a loved one’s desire to die. Her one work of non-fiction, Swing Low: A Life, considers her father’s suicide. Writing about tragedy helps, Miriam says, enabling her to “create order out of chaos, and make sense of things. It helps me to understand what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt and seen, so it becomes a little easier to handle.”
Known for her masterful fusion of humour and heartbreak, Miriam has won numerous literary awards for earlier books including A Complicated Kindness, winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, and The Flying Troutmans, winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.
Miriam is originally from Manitoba and lives in Toronto.
Nominated for the Giller Long List.
Photo Credit: Carol Loewen