Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Staff Pick

In Women Talking (Bloomsbury, $24), Miriam Toews takes a true story and makes it into a novel, a Greek tragedy, a play, and a feminist protest. The facts are that between 2005 and 2009 the women of a Mennonite community in Bolivia were attacked and raped in their sleep. At first, the colony blamed spirit demons, but eventually it emerged that the attackers were some of the colony’s men. Toews sets her fiction during the course of a few days; while the community’s men are in town working to release the perpetrators, the women gather in a hayloft to debate their options. They can do nothing, stay and fight, or leave. Because they’ve been kept illiterate, the women delegate the colony’s schoolteacher—who is shunned by the other men—to record their discussion. The women are eloquent, funny, sharp as they consider both the religious and the everyday implications of their decisions. Women Talking, with its vivid voices—full of individual idiosyncrasies and generational differences—fluid transitions, and unexpected tensions, could easily be a play. Toews’s dialogue is uncannily alive, and her narration is tender, unadorned, and sympathetic as she writes of women’s pain and doubts, but also their hope and faith and profound humanity.

Women Talking Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635572582
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - April 2nd, 2019

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