"Move over, Scout Finch! There's a new contender for feistiest girl in fiction, and her name is Swiv." -USA Today, "Best Books of the Year"
"Toews is a master of dialogue." -New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice
"A revelation." -Richard Russo
NPR Best Books of the Year * Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize * Writers' Trust Fiction Prize Finalist * Indie Next Pick * Amazon Editors' Pick * Apple Book of the Month
From the bestselling author of Women Talking and All My Puny Sorrows, a compassionate, darkly humorous, and deeply wise novel about three generations of women.
"You're a small thing," Grandma writes, "and you must learn to fight." Swiv's Grandma, Elvira, has been fighting all her life. From her upbringing in a strict religious community, she has fought those who wanted to take away her joy, her independence, and her spirit. She has fought to make peace with her loved ones when they have chosen to leave her. And now, even as her health fails, Grandma is fighting for her family: for her daughter, partnerless and in the third term of a pregnancy; and for her granddaughter Swiv, a spirited nine-year-old who has been suspended from school. Cramped together in their Toronto home, on the precipice of extraordinary change, Grandma and Swiv undertake a vital new project, setting out to explain their lives in letters they will never send.
Alternating between the exuberant, precocious voice of young Swiv and her irrepressible, tenacious Grandma, Fight Night is a love letter to mothers and grandmothers, and to all the women who are still fighting-painfully, ferociously- for a way to live on their own terms.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
When you’re young, every day can be a grand new adventure. Miriam Toews expertly captures that sense of excitement in this tale of three generations of women. Preteen Swiv lives in Toronto with her pregnant mother, who is an actress, and her feisty grandmother. After Swiv’s expelled from school, Grandma gives her an assignment—write a letter to the father who abandoned them. Meanwhile, Grandma is writing her own letter to her unborn grandchild. Toews clearly is having an absolute blast writing in the voice of a precocious nine-year-old—Swiv’s stream-of-consciousness retelling of everything she sees is witty and endearing. But it’s Grandma who commands center stage, with her resilient, positive attitude and lust for life. When the tears come—and they will—they are well earned. Throwing verbal jabs, Toews has created a Fight Night that you’ll want a front-row ticket for.
Toews (Women Talking) continues her consideration of the theme of women's self-determination in this indelible and darkly hilarious portrait of an unforgettable Toronto family. Framed as a long letter to eight-year-old Swiv's absent father in her brisk, matter-of-fact voice, it also features letters to her mother and others. After being expelled from school for fighting, she grows closer to her larger-than-life grandmother, Elvira, who "has one foot in the grave" and dives into homeschooling with gusto, convening so-called editorial meetings and devising assignments to write letters to one another. Meanwhile, Swiv's mother, Mooshie, a pregnant actor, is prone to dramatic and sometimes violent mood swings, leading Swiv to fear Mooshie might succumb to the same mental illness that led to her aunt's and grandfather's suicides. The harder-edged Mooshie, who wants a "cold IPA and a holiday" for her birthday, and the exuberant Elvira, are both brash and fearless, traits that alternately embarrass and inspire Swiv. Through these women's letters and stories, readers glimpse histories of grief, loss, and abuse, making Grandma's assertion that "joy... is resistance" even more powerful. The moving conclusion, which has its roots in a plan for Swiv and Elvira to visit family members in California, shuns sentimentality and celebrates survival. Fierce and funny, this gives undeniable testimony to the life force of family. It's a knockout.