Miriam Toews

Honorary Doctorate

Miriam Toews

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Journalism

Honorary Doctor of Letters

Miriam Toews grew up in Steinbach, Manitoba, the second daughter of Mennonite parents, a heritage that has informed much of her work. She is the author of six bestselling novels: Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans, Irma Voth, All My Puny Sorrows, and one memoir, Swing Low.

She has won numerous literary prizes including the Governor General's Award for Fiction and the Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award for body of work. She is also a two-time finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and a two-time winner of the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. She has dedicated time to encourage new writers and has appeared as a panelist and presenter at The University of Winnipeg.

Skillfully and with poignancy, Toews draws on her own life to create art and illuminate the dark corners of human experience. Her father, a respected school teacher, committed suicide in 1998. His death inspired Toews to write a memoir in her father's voice, Swing Low: A Life. The book’s insight into mental illness won the Alexander Kennedy Isbister Award for Non-Fiction and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award. Toews' older sister, Marjorie, who struggled with depression, committed suicide in 2010, almost 12 years to the day after their father. Toews’s most recent novel, All My Puny Sorrows, explores the heart-wrenching bond between two sisters – one who wants to die, the other who wants desperately for her to live.

Although Toews is a fearless and unflinching writer, she always weaves wry humour and compassion into her narratives. Her characters are deeply human.

For her many accomplishments as one of Canada’s most important contemporary novelists, The University of Winnipeg bestows on Miriam Toews an Honorary Doctor of Letters.