A child’s eye view: Fight Night, by Miriam Toews, reviewed

Writing from a child’s point of view is a daredevil act that Miriam Toews raises the stakes on in her latest novel. The nine-year-old narrator is meant to have written the words that appear on the page. But then there is something inherently risky about Toews’s whole undertaking as a novelist. She has made her name in fiction that grapples with the restrictive Mennonite community in which she was raised – keeping faith with it and betraying it simultaneously. Her masterly Women Talking confronted the community head on, depicting the secret meetings of a group of women deciding how to respond to pervasive sexual violence. Now we move outside the

God is everywhere, sometimes in strange guises, in Jonathan Franzen’s Crossroads

Twenty years ago The Corrections alerted a troubled world to the talents of Jonathan Franzen. Though cruel and funny and aggressively clever, the novel did more than display its author’s spiky brilliance. A stubborn moral core, in the person of the ailing patriarch of the Lambert family, and a tangled web of fierce emotion binding him and his wife and three children, gave it powerful resonance. Franzen’s new novel, Crossroads, presents us with another patriarch and another set of dysfunctional family dynamics. What has changed in the past two decades? Now less inclined to show off, Franzen is more assiduous in his excavation of character. We get less dazzle and