A Complicated Kindness

Many novels have been written from the point of view of someone railing against an oppressive religious upbringing. Few, however, are as funny yet sympathetic as Miriam Toews’s outstanding third novel, which won last year’s Governor General’s Award in Canada. Toews beat out Alice Munro for the prize—no mean feat.

This coming-of-age story, told by 16-year-old Nomi Nickel, is set in the early 1980s in the rural Manitoba town of East Village, which is populated mostly by conservative Mennonites. Nomi lives with her father, a teacher at the local high school, who is slowly selling all his furniture and sits in the front yard on a yellow lawn chair, watching the highway.


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