Speaking with Miriam Toews about Females Speaking

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Miriam Toews

Miriam Toews. Photo by Carol Loewen.

Miriam Toews grew up in a Mennonite neighborhood in Manitoba, Canada. Her novels incorporate A Complex Kindness, All My Puny Sorrows, and Irma Voth, and she played a top function in the 2007 film Silent Light. Her new novel, Females Speaking, imagines the aftermath of a true-life occasion: the ongoing, systematic rapes of girls and ladies in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia that have been perpetrated and covered up by the males of the neighborhood.

What do you see as the added benefits of expanding up in a tiny, close-knit neighborhood? What messages about God, humanity, and the planet did your town’s Mennonite identity instill in you?

I had a good childhood. I roamed freely all about the town. Absolutely everyone knew who my parents have been, who my grandparents have been, and exactly where I lived. There was a particular comfort in that, at least when I was a kid.        

With respect to Mennonite teachings, I appreciate the tips behind adult baptism: prepared and conscious acceptance of Jesus and purifying oneself of pride. Mennonites also emphasize loyalty and neighborhood. They do a lot of excellent function to assist the needy and, of course, to market peace and pacifism.

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