Being Canadian, I am a big reader of Canadian fiction. Giller Prize nominees take up much of the space on my bookshelf. Therefore, I am embarrassed to admit that I have just now read A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. This book won the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 2004. That’s eleven years ago for those of you playing at home.
The novel is impeccably written, full of dark humour and beautiful introspective moments. Sixteen year old Nomi rebels against her strict Mennonite community while dealing with the collapse of her family. She is, in many ways, like any small town girl longing for the freedom and anonymity of the big city.
Being Canadian also means that between the months of November and May, I spend most of my naked time indoors. Around this time every year I start to get a bit of cabin fever, longing to feel the cool breeze against my bare skin. I wish that there were more opportunities to be clothing free in my part of the world. We’re still quite puritanical here; Private parts are private and must remain so. Keep it secret, keep it safe. (Little Tolkien reference for you there)
I found that Nomi’s struggle against the inflexibility and lack of forgiveness of her religious community somewhat fit the theme of what I’m doing here. It’s easy to feel stifled by society, and finding a way to express yourself can be an uphill battle when you are expected to conform. Being true to who you are is always the right answer.