Women Talking (Toews) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
[Toews's] celebrated novels are haunted by her upbringing, but she has never written with such heartbreak, or taken such sure aim at fundamentalism and its hypocrisies, as she does in her new book, Women Talking.… Did I mention the book is funny? Wickedly so, with Toews's brand of seditious wit…The ethical questions the women quarrel over feel strikingly contemporary: What are the differences between punishment and justice? How do we define rehabilitation; how do we enforce accountability? (To see these questions explored with such complexity and curiosity, with such open grief and that rogue Toews humor, makes me long for more novels reckoning with #MeToo and fewer op-eds.)
New York Times - Parul Sehgal


Miriam Toews's scorching sixth novel… skips over the rapes and the apprehension of the rapists, cutting straight to existential questions facing the women in the aftermath. Women Talking is a wry, freewheeling novel of ideas that touches on the nature of evil, questions of free will, collective responsibility, cultural determinism and, above all, forgiveness.… [Toews] depicts the women at the center of the novel with insight, sympathy and respect. Their conversation is loose, unpredictable, occasionally profane and surprisingly funny.… By loosening the tongues of disenfranchised women and engaging them in substantive dialogue about their lives, Toews grants them agency they haven't enjoyed in life. By refusing to focus on the crimes that launched this existential reappraisal, she treats them as dignified individuals rather than props in a voyeuristic entertainment.
Jennifer Reese - New York Times Book Review


Lean, bristling… a remarkably layered and gripping story.… The book's confined setting and its tight time frame combine to superb dramatic effect.
Wall Street Journal


A painful, thought-provoking, strangely lovely gem.… At the heart of Women Talking lies the question of how women can create a better world for themselves and for those they love amid a culture of male sexual violence, the continued power of patriarchy, their own differences, and the limits of language itself. It's a question that resonates across the globe today, and in answering it, we could do much worse than to start with the manifesto of the women of Molotschna: "We want our children to be safe.… We want to be steadfast in our faith. We want to think.
Boston Globe


Astonishing.… Toews, who has written often about her own Mennonite history, has told a riveting story that is both intensely specific and painfully resonant in the wider world. Women Talking is essential, elemental.
USA Today


This stark, masterful story takes a timely look at ideas of justice and agency (Best Books to Read This Spring).
Esquire


The award-winning novelist returns with what may be her most experimental work yet, giving voice to eight women as they grapple with the trauma and power of patriarchy (50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019).
Entertainment Weekly


I would follow the Canadian author anywhere she leads—this time to a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia where the women have been subjected to brutal attacks in the night first believed to be the work of demons. When they discover the atrocities were committed by men in their community, the women—who cannot read or write and require the group's schoolteacher to write down their conversations—must decide whether they will leave, exiting the only world they've known, or remain.
Huffington Post


[O]ne of the most anticipated books of the year for a reason. The story (based on true events) focuses on eight Mennonite women who—after being repeatedly drugged and attacked by a group of men in their community—meet in secret and decide how to reclaim their lives not just for their own future, but also for their daughters (Best Fiction Books of 2019).
Woman's Day


(Starred review) [R]eaders are able to see how carefully and intentionally the women think through their life-changing decision—critically discussing their roles in society, their love for their families and religion, and their hopes and desires for the future. This is an inspiring and unforgettable novel.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review) [A] sharp blade of a novel.… Toews' knowing wit and grasp of dire subjects align her with Margaret Atwood, while her novel's slicing concision and nearly Socratic dialogue has the impact of a courtroom drama or a Greek tragedy.
Booklist


(Starred review) An exquisite critique of patriarchal culture.… [T]he narrator is a man, but that's of necessity. These women are illiterate and therefore incapable of recording their thoughts without his sympathetic assistance. Stunningly original and altogether arresting.
Kirkus Reviews

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