Miriam Toews (pron.: //; born 1964 in Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada) is a Canadian writer of Mennonite descent. She grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba and has lived in Montreal and London, before settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She moved to Toronto in 2009.
Toews studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of King's College in Halifax, and has also worked as a freelance newspaper and radio journalist. Her non-fiction book Swing Low: A Life was a memoir of her father, a victim of lifelong depression. Her 2004 novel A Complicated Kindness was her breakthrough work, spending over a year on the Canadian bestseller lists and winning the Governor General's Award for English Fiction. The novel, about a teenage girl who longs to escape her small Dutch Mennonite town and hang out with Lou Reed in the slums of New York City, was also nominated for the Giller Prize and was the winning title in the 2006 edition of Canada Reads.
A series of letters she wrote in 2000 to the father of her son were published on the website www.openletters.net and were profiled on the radio show This American Life in an episode about missing parents.
In 2007 she made her screen debut in the Mexican film Luz silenciosa directed by Carlos Reygadas, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival. She was nominated for Best Actress at Mexico's Ariel Awards for her performance in the film.
In September 2008, Knopf Canada published her novel The Flying Troutmans, about a 28-year-old woman from Manitoba who takes her 15-year-old nephew and 11-year-old niece on a road trip to California after their mentally ill mother has been hospitalized. That novel won the 2008 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
Her newest book, Irma Voth, was released in April 2011.
- Summer of My Amazing Luck, Turnstone Press, 1996, ISBN 0-88801-205-5
- A Boy of Good Breeding, Vintage Canada, 1998, ISBN 0-676-97719-7
- Swing Low: A Life (non-fiction), Vintage Canada, 2000, ISBN 0-676-97718-9
- A Complicated Kindness, Knopf Canada, 2004, ISBN 0-676-97613-1
- The Flying Troutmans, Knopf Canada, 2008, ISBN 978-0-307-39749-2
- Irma Voth, Knopf Canada, 2011, ISBN 978-0-307-40068-0
- Governor General's Award — A Complicated Kindness.
- Giller Prize (nominated) — A Complicated Kindness.
- McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award — Swing Low: A Life.
- Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction — Swing Low: A Life.
- McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award— A Boy of Good Breeding.
- Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour (nominated) — Summer of My Amazing Luck.
- John Hirsch Award — Summer of My Amazing Luck.
- National Magazine Award Gold Medal for Humour.
- A Complicated Kindness was chosen for the inclusion in Canada Reads 2006, championed by singer-songwriter, poet and publisher John K. Samson. It won the competition.
- Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize - The Flying Troutmans
- Winnipeg Free Press, Nov. 28, 2009, "Bergen changes gears after year of up and downs"
- About Miriam Toews (in German): Christoph Wiebe, "Vom Scheitern eines 500jährigen Experiments. Miriam Toews' Roman Ein komplizierter Akt der Liebe", in: Mennonitische Geschichtsblätter, herausgegeben vom Mennonitischen Geschichtsverein, Jg. 63, Bolanden 2006, S. 153-172. ISBN 3-921881-24-2