Monday, December 17, 2007

A Complicated Kindness


I'm reading a really, really wonderful book: A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

It is beautifully written. Told from the point of view of a teen (although the book was marketed as adult fiction, I can see where it could easily cross over to young adult), it is both humorous and poignant.

From the fly:

"We're Mennonites. As far as I know, we are the most embarrassing sub-sect of people to belong to if you're a teenager. Five hundred years ago in Europe a man called Menno Simons set off to do his own peculiar religious thing...Imagine the least well-adjusted kid in your school starting a breakaway clique of people whose manifesto includes a ban on the media, dancing, smoking, temperate climates, movies, drinking, rock'n'roll, having sex for fun, swimming, make-up, jewellery, playing pool, going to cities or staying up past nine o'clock. That was Menno all over. Thanks a lot, Menno."

In A Complicated Kindness, Nomi Nickel is stuck in a small Russian Mennonite town in Manitoba with her father. She's trying to make sense of the fact that her mother and sister have disappeared. She's trying to make sense of her life in general. She would love to escape Manitoba and live in New York City with Lou Reed. Apparently, she figures out what happened to her mother and sister, but I haven't gotten that far in the book. So, fear not, there's no spoiler!

A Complicated Kindness won the Governor General's Award and was nominated for the Giller Prize.

A little trivia about the author: She lives in Manitoba and is of Mennonite descent. She debuted in a Mexican film this year, Luz silenciosa. It screened at Cannes.

Nothing beats a good book. Except, perhaps, a good book, a hot cup of tea and a runny butter tart!

P.S. I read Miriam Toews' other two novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck and A Boy of Good Breeding. They were both
excellent.

P.P.S. I can't wait to get to my hair appointment tomorrow so I can continue reading.

15 comments:

Bailey Stewart said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog. The book sounds interesting.

Kellan said...

This sounds like a great book - my girls might just like this one, they are always looking for new books. I bought them 12 new books for Christmas already. Take care and have a good day. Kellan

Barrie said...

Bailey: and thanks for dropping by my blog. :)

Barrie said...

Kellan: TWELVES books?! You are WONDERFUL! Okay, about A Complicated Kindness, it would definitely be upper Young Adult. As in, it has some mature themes. Don't know what you let/don't let your girls read, so I thought I'd let you know.

JenKneeBee said...

This book sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation, I'll have to pick it up.

Travis Erwin said...

I like the tone and voice in that sample you gave us. I'll have to check out the novel.

And thanks for the kind words of encouragement over on my blog. And congrats to you on getting Rachel Vater to rep you. I have long followed her blog and I still check it regularly even though she hasn't posted often since moving to Folio. I've never met Ms. Vater in real life but I did meet Paige Wheeler who is also at Folio and she was great. Seems like an excellent agency all the way around.

Kelley said...

This sounds like a pretty good read. I will have to give it a try.

Sherry said...

I loved "A Complicated Kindness". It was raw, edgy and written as if a "teen" was speaking. Worthy of the GG's award. Now a book, a cupe of tea and a runny butter tart?!? Count me in ^5!!!

I'm loving Kellan who buys that many books for children!!!!

Beth said...

It's such a wonderful book!
I loved it too.

Mac and Cheese said...

Will ya quit taunting me with the buttertarts!

Trish said...

I like her books too - *off to the library*

I would have to add to your tea, butter tarts and book scene with a snowy day and a crackling fire :)

Chantal said...

Thanks for the reminder. I swear I have a list as long as my arm of books I want to read (this one, Kite Runner, Diary of a slacker mom...) but I get myself to the library and draw a blank. Duh!

Eileen said...

I loved this book!

Monnik said...

Hey Barrie! this is a great book review. I'm going to have to check it out.

gabe said...

I got to meet Miriam when she was writer in residence at our library - she gave me incredible support and even sent my book to her agent - who it turned out didn't do 'middle grade' ...
but still, I'm considering asking her to blurb on my book ... but I'll probably chicken out.

She is the NICEST person you can imagine. So unpretentious, too.
And funny, too.
-gabe