In all of Miriam Toews’ novels, the female protagonists embark on journeys to carve out a place for themselves in society, despite family tragedies, troubling secrets, and oppressive religion that is forced on them, all of which threaten their identities as individuals. Furthermore, the male authority figures cause these young women further isolation and grief when absent from their lives. The physical journeys Toews’ characters embark on serve to represent a coming of age for them, as the author’s depictions of these journeys parallel the characters’ search for their true identity. In All My Puny Sorrows, the main character Yoli constantly fights to keep her sister Elf alive and to keep her away from harming and hurting herself, but eventually, she questions whether it is beneficial to keep trying to save her, or if she should help her to end her suffering. Yoli brings humor to her sad experience, a coping strategy common to Toews’ protagonists.
Troubling secrets and tragedies were also a major part of Pablo Escobar’s life. Pablo Escobar, like many drug lords, came from poverty. The appeal of unlimited wealth and power drove Escobar to fame, fortune, and control over almost the entire Colombian drug trade. Despite Escobar’s cruelty towards his enemies, his devotion to community development in impoverished areas created a loyal base of Colombians that would kill or die for him. Pablo Escobar was also known as the “King of Cocaine” and had a net worth of approximately 30 billion dollars by the 1990’s. His cartel was responsible for 80% of cocaine brought into the United States towards the end of the twentieth century. As a result, both Colombian police officers and U.S. CIA agents hunted Escobar for years. Bribery and corruption of authorities, combined with his loyal family and workers, allowed Escobar to evade capture and death until 1993. While considered the “king” of the South American drug trade, Pablo Escobar’s wealth came at the expense of others. His cruelty was unmatched and his reputation worthy of fear.
Major Works Consulted:
Bowden, Mark. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2007.
Turits, Meredith.“Miriam Toews.”The Rumpus. http://therumpus.net/2015/01/the-rumpus- interview-with-miriam-toews/ Accessed April 10,2017.
Frank, Lenny. “The Cocaine King: Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel.” Daily Kos. Last Modified July 28, 2015. Accessed February 25, 2017. http://www.dailykos.com/story
Toews, Miriam. All My Puny Sorrows. San Francisco: McSweeney's Publishing, 2015.
---. A Complicated Kindness. New York: Counterpoint, 2004.