Why Christa Couture calls All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews 'brilliant'

"[T]his book shines light where it will always be needed," says the singer-songwriter.
Award-winning singer-songwriter Christa Couture says All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews connected with her like no other book has done before. (Jen Squires/Vintage Canada)

July 1, 2017 marks 150 years since Confederation in Canada. CBC Books is creating the Great Canadian Reading List — a list of 150 books curated by you.

Singer-songwriter Christa Couture chose All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. 

"'Books are what save us. Books are what don't save us,' writes Miriam Toews in All My Puny Sorrows, a Canadian book that is brilliant for all the usual reasons — wit, poetics and achingly, beautifully, imperfect characters — and exceptionally meaningful for satisfying a need. That need is what sits between being saved and not saved: the need for something to hold on to. As a person, like Toews, whose life has had great sorrow, I ache to see myself in books, and nowhere before this one had I found such familiarity — in sadness that is bracingly alive; that wears its heart on its sleeve fearlessly and with sharp humour. For anyone who wants to know what the centre of tragedy or chronic heartache is like, or for anyone who has lived at that centre themselves, this book shines light where it will always be needed."

Christa Couture is a singer-songwriter whose albums include Long Time Leaving (2016) and The Living Record (2012). In 2017, she was among 150 Indigenous artists to receive a $10,000 Hnatyshyn Foundation Reveal Indigenous Art Award. She is currently a producer on CBC's Canada 150 project.


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