Synopses & Reviews
Miriam Toews' new novel brings us back to the beloved voice of her award-winning, #1 bestseller A Complicated Kindness
, and to a Mennonite community in the Mexican desert. Original and brilliant, she is a master of storytelling at the height of her powers, who manages with trademark wry wit and a fierce tenderness to be at once heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny.
Irma Voth entangles love, longing and dark family secrets. The stifling, reclusive Mennonite life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth — newly married and newly deserted and as unforgettable a character as Nomi Nickel in A Complicated Kindness — is irrevocably changed when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the community. She embraces the absurdity, creative passion and warmth of their world but her intractable and domineering father is determined to keep her from it at all costs. The confrontation between them sets her on an irrevocable path towards something that feels like freedom as she and her young sister, Aggie, wise beyond her teenage years, flee to the city, upheld only by their love for each other and their smart wit, even as they begin to understand the tragedy that has their family in its grip.
Irma Voth delves into the complicated factors that set us on the road to self-discovery and how we can sometimes find the strength to endure the really hard things that happen. And as Gustavo, a taxi driver, says, you go on, you live and you laugh and you are compassionate toward others. It also asks that most difficult of questions: How do we forgive? And most importantly, how do we forgive ourselves?
"Toews's (A Complicated Kindness) story unfolds in a remote Mennonite outpost in Mexico, where the strictly observant cross paths with the narcos, creating an uncomfortable cultural mix of Spanish, English, and Low German. Nineteen-year-old Irma tells of her own alienation from the Mennonites after marrying a young Mexican man. Though she still lives near her family, her patriarchal father has ordered her shunned (her spirited little sister, however, continues to visit, half-angry, half-longing for brief contact). After a quick wedding, Irma's husband is rarely home, and Irma is lonely until an eccentric crew of filmmakers arrives to make a movie set among the Mennonites. Irma works as a translator and finds much in common with these artists and lost souls. But her father holds an overblown hatred of the filmmakers, believing them evil. When his menacing opposition begins to threaten the film and her sister's safety Irma, ennobled by her experience on the production, makes a radical choice that will greatly affect her family. With her fifth novel, Toews, who was born into a Mennonite community in Canada, combines an intimate coming-of-age tale with picaresque and extremely effective prose. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"The nicely drawn contrast between what Irma knows and suspects and what the reader understands about her world gives Irma Voth a suspenseful charge from the first pages." Globe and Mail (Toronto)
That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth
follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.
Nineteen-year-old Irma lives in a rural Mennonite community in Mexico. She has already been cast out of her family for marrying a young Mexican neer-do-well she barely knows, although she remains close to her rebellious younger sister and yearns for the lost intimacy with her mother. With a husband who proves elusive and often absent, a punishing father, and a faith in God damaged beyond repair, Irma appears trapped in an untenable and desperate situation. When a celebrated Mexican filmmaker and his crew arrive from Mexico City to make a movie about the insular community in which she was raised, Irma is immediately drawn to the outsiders and is soon hired as a translator on the set. But her father, intractable and domineering, is determined to destroy the film and get rid of the interlopers. His action sets Irma on an irrevocable path toward something that feels like freedom.
A novel of great humanity, written with dry wit, edgy humor, and emotional poignancy, Irma Voth is the powerful story of a young womans quest to discover all that she may become in the unexpectedly rich and confounding world that lies beyond the stifling, observant community she knows.
About the Author
Miriam Toews was born in the small Mennonite town of Steinbach, Manitoba. She has published five novels and a memoir of her father, and is the recipient of numerous literary awards in Canada, including the Governor Generals Literary Award (for A Complicated Kindness) and the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize (for The Flying Troutmans). In 2010 she received the prestigious Writers Trust Engel/Findley Award for her body of work. Irma Voth is Toewss most recent novel. She lives in Toronto.