Have you read Women Talking yet? I finished reading it the other day, I couldn’t put it down. Miriam Toews truly has a gift for representing love and anger, humour and devastation, in a compelling narrative.
For those that perhaps don’t know or haven’t heard, Women Talking is a response to, or an imagined interaction with, actual events that occurred in an isolated Mennonite Colony in Bolivia. Between 2005 and 2009, a group of men on the colony had been using an animal anesthetic to knock females unconscious and rape them. Horrifying. And so, to be honest, I was wishing for a revenge novel of the most violent sort. But Toews’ writing is nuanced, complicated, there are many factors to consider. In this novel, the women realistically weigh their options: stay and fight, leave, or do nothing. They talk, they share, they argue, they listen to one another. This novel is heart-wrenching, infuriating, and beautiful.
I don’t know that things have gotten any better on the colony where these events occurred. (Before the novel begins, Toews includes a note stating that in 2013, there had been more reports of these attacks continuing within the colony.) But this book shines a very glaring light directly onto those events…and I think that’s very important. The fact that this has happened (and may still be happening today) needs to be known. Those men don’t want their actions to be known. But they must be known.
We went to the Winnipeg book launch of Women Talking on August 23rd at McNally Robinson Grant Park…
And we weren’t the only ones. The store was PACKED.
Christine Fellows hosted the evening, “in conversation” with Miriam Toews. The conversation turned out to be this: Christine Fellows would sing, then Miriam Toews would read. I felt that the interplay between the songs and the reading was like a conversation. Unexpected and lovely.
And, at the end of the evening, we left with our very own copy of the book. Do you have yours yet?