Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Updates, reviews, weather

I reviewed Chris Kraus’s Torpor for the Irish Times last week. The novel, her third, published in North America in 2006, has just been published in the UK. I admire Kraus’s body of work and humour and it must be strange to have previously published work reviewed anew. One point that was cut, due to space constraints, related to a reference to Romanian power cuts, which I found fascinating towards the end of the novel. Also, a handy metaphor for the long overdue power cut required in the marriage featured throughout Torpor.  My review is found here

Earlier in the year and last October 2016, I wrote two pieces for the LRB on the fentanyl crisis here in Vancouver. I probably should write another one to update the situation, which needless to say, has not abated and will not abate until we decriminalize drugs. The most obvious and urgently needed response is immediate funding and infrastructure to expand the script heroin program at Crosstown Clinic. Safe injection sites need to open across the country and all possible harm reduction measures immediately implemented. This is a National Health Crisis and our federal government have refused to declare it such because then they’d be legally obliged to save lives. My pieces are here and here

The Goldsmith Prize evening and reading event was great fun. The sausages they served made my Twitter Top 10 Snacks of the Year List. I cannot recall the number that sausage came in at. It’s really a hell of a lot of work to organize that prize and the events, so fair play to those we don’t see who make it happen. And to the jury because reading time is precious and lots of writers serve on juries and must inevitably have to read books (including mine) they’d rather not.  They also must meet and discuss and likewise this takes them from their own writing practice.

Thank you so much to the Republic of Consciousness Prize and all who supported it. I was delighted to be awarded the runner up prize for fiction for MARTIN JOHN. Congratulations to the winner John Keene and the other runner up Mike McCormack and Paul Stanbridge. I greatly admire Neil Griffiths, who set it up, and of course the various small press publishers it’s designed to acknowledge and financially reward for their underfunded, valiant efforts to bring our books to readers who, if it were only left to the mainstream, would never see them. This prize especially draws attention to the shifts in UK publishing. Larger Independent presses are actually conservative in the UK compared to here in Canada. Thus the word “Independent” needs careful deliberation before one draws overly cosy conclusions that it automatically means ambition.  Pas exactement! Naturally readers are our most powerful ally and influence in all these economic matters, because if you buy truly ambitious literary work it means we, as writers, can continue to write it by maybe eating the occasional boiled egg.

I was also blessed to visit Brown University and Fordham University in the US for events. The students were lively minded and had very engaging, probing questions. We ran out of time! I am so sorry not to have had more time to interact with the students and hear about their work and what they are reading.

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And now to the weather…. We had the strangest weather event last night. All day the sun shone strong. By evening a wind storm developed, which blew me off my bicycle as I rode into it! That said it doesn’t take much to bounce me off my bike.  The storm involved a great amount of leaf whipping and the redistribution of massive amounts of building site dust since the entire city is still under the condo development juggernaut! All night long the gusts kept up. It’s rare to experience a summer weather wind storm.

Our winter was savagely long this past year. Today I ran into V on the street, a very charming neighbour, I haven’t seen for a long time. “If you wanted to come outside you had to do the flipper walk” she declared of this winter. Now though the city is laced in cyclists (many of whom were probably on the bike all winter because there are stoic cyclists in this city) and it’s a lovely experience to cycle about on the cycle lanes, even if you have few gears and if the wind rises you’ll be hopped asunder! I have loved the bike rides I’ve taken. They are temporarily exhilarating, no matter what the weather is doing. Especially because Vancouver is becoming such a challenging city financially for the poor to live in. It’s quite hideous the growing disparity and moon-bound rents. The bicycle, however, can transport.

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