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Half of our family, the better-looking half, is missing,” Nomi Nickel tells us at the beginning of A Complicated Kindness. Left alone with her sad, peculiar father, her days are spent piecing together why her mother and sister have disappeared and contemplating her inevitable career at Happy Family Farms, a chicken slaughterhouse on the outskirts of East Village. Not the East Village in New York City where Nomi would prefer to live, but an oppressive town founded by Mennonites on the cold, flat plains of Manitoba, Canada.
This darkly funny novel is the world according to Nomi, a bewildered and wry sixteen-year-old trapped in a town governed by fundamentalist religion and in the shattered remains of a family it destroyed. In Nomi’s droll, refreshing voice, we're told the story of an eccentric, loving family that falls apart as each member lands on a collision course with the only community any of them have ever known. A work of fierce humor and tragedy by a writer who has taken the American market by storm, readers will find this searing, tender, comic testament to family love difficult to forget.
Miriam Toews is the author of the novels, All My Puny Sorrows, The Flying Troutmans, Summer of My Amazing Luck (nominated for the Stephen Leacock Award and winner of the John Hirsch Award) and A Boy of Good Breeding (winner of the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award), and one work of nonfiction, Swing Low: A Life. She has written for CBC, This American Life (NPR), and The New York Times Magazine, and has won the national magazine gold medal for humor. She lives in Toronto.