Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

June 16, 2012

Malarky: “reminiscent of Under Milk Wood”

Thank you to JC Sutcliffe at Slightly Bookist for taking precious time to engage with and excavate Malarky.

In her review she remarks:

This doesn’t mention the grief that is stamped through the novel like the writing in a stick of rock, nor the fact that the narrative jumps around in time to make sure that the reader never gets too complacent, too comfortable in a particular emotion. Characters are dead, then alive, the dead again, which plays nicely with our internalised propriety that makes us shy away from speaking ill of the dead.

If all this talk of death makes Malarky sound bleak, it is anything but. It’s a glorious, breathless romp through the mind of an immensely likeable woman, a book reminiscent of Under Milk Wood in the beautiful and unexpected cadences of the writing.

Click the above to read the entire piece.

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June 16, 2012

Under the weather

Oh glory, oh grief how we are challenged by our current weather! It is so ridiculously dark outside today and grim that I must insist to myself there’s something unbeknownst to discover from it. It’s like a set of bricks on the eyelids from indoors, just misery inducing.

To wit, in the spirit of Our Woman, I shall not be sunk and shall up and out into it rather than remain surly in retreat.

I have daily reports of similar weather elsewhere. I was only remarking yesterday to a correspondent on the incredible power of the weather to do our heads in. I maintain tho’ it needs to be embraced, even tho’ I am not a great example of such today.

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June 10, 2012

Montreal Gazette review Malarky: “one of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years…”

Montreal was very good to Malarky this week. More pan clanging!  Thank you to the Montreal Gazette and Ian McGillis, who had plenty thoughtful warm remarking and framing on Malarky. Some snips below:

“..she’s one of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years, and a new literary standard bearer for the most under-represented of demographics: the working class middle-aged woman.”

“Toeing the delicate line between tragedy and comedy – the former inherent in the bare facts of Our Woman’s life, the latter in her irrepressible voice – Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point and remarkably sustains that level all the way through. The spirit of Joyce’s Molly Bloom hovers around the edges of Malarky, so if you’ve always found the last pages of Ulysses to be the highlight of that difficult masterpiece, you might just find Molly’s modern-day descendant in Our Woman. Others will be reminded of another Irish classic, lately fallen into unjust neglect: Edna O’Brien’s 1960 novel The Country Girls. But here’s one Irish country girl who has grown up and seen and done things O’Brien’s could never have envisioned.”

Read more:
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June 10, 2012

Rain and quakes

Wales appears to be under serious flooding, I heard reports of heavy rainfall from the West of Ireland and here in BC we have a mixture of 6 current flood watches and warnings in effect. Rain is the theme!

Today however we enjoyed a blast of sunshine. At 6.30pm I had to dodge indoors for fear I might even get burnt. (It doesn’t take much, I can manage to get sunburned indoors with the curtains shut)

Oh the other enormous piece of news that I managed to shamefully miss for two days because of being in a deadline tunnel was an earthquake (4.0) off the coast of Co. Mayo! Felt in Mayo, Sligo, Galway which has the geologists pondering and some of us pointing at the fracking activity for inquiry.

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June 8, 2012

The Rover/Rover Arts review Malarky

I clang pans very loudly in appreciation for the careful reading of Malarky and lovely review by Elise Moser in The Rover (An Independent review of art and culture) out of Montreal.

Here’s an extract:

This is a brilliant book. Finely drawn, deceptively muscular, and pulsing with warm intelligence and wit, it offers a reprieve from despair no less profound for coming very much at the last moment.


Malarky is studded with fabulous sentences. Page after page, the reader is thrilled by vivid turns of phrase like whiffs of ammonia that tunnel up into the brain with a pungent combination of discomfort and unexpected pleasure. Anakana Schofield’s language carries the sharpness of Irish speech; she uses it to reveal the incisive powers of observation with which our heroine carves her perceptions of the ordinary life around her, and excavates the truths – emotional and practical — that the world tries to keep buried.


Read the entire review here.




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June 8, 2012

Tyee Summer Reads list includes Malarky

A dapper mention in The Tyee for Malarky chosen as one of their Summer Reads picks in a fine radical list of books. What a nifty write-up.

A book to read while spending that week at the cottage with your relatives you always thought were a bit, um, off.


Malarky by Anakana Schofield (bibilioasis)


Vancouver author Schofield’s much lauded debut novel employs a bluntly pragmatic first person voice in explicating the gradual psychic unraveling of an Irish middle-aged woman. The language is funny one moment, forensic the next, but just when the book begins to feel a small gem of internal monologue, you realize its about everyone in the world who is driven a little or a lot crazy by their culture’s repressive notions of sexuality, identity and proper behaviour. In other words, read Malarky to either understand how your cottage-sharing relatives got that way, or to see them as not being as screwed up as you thought they were.

Click here to read all the selections (including some good local picks like Davie Street Translations by Daniel Zomparelli)

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June 8, 2012


I’m pleased to report I’ve received complaints about the weather in four cities this week! Of course complaints are a good thing since that means people are attending to the weather and examining it, which is to be encouraged…

The talk in other parts of the province here is flood warnings and rivers rising. Closer to home it’s really been exceptionally shite, drowned onion weather. But today on the radio they were saying it is normal for it to be cold in June so what do we know? Apparently nothing.

What I do know is I caved in and turned the heating on again today, how and ever when I went for the switch it was already on. Unbeknownst. I must have turned it back on weeks ago in despair.


This evening I was at a Vancouver Writers Festival event, where the line up for this year’s festival was unveiled.  I am delighted to be appearing at the festival with Malarky this year. I’m equally delighted to have been invited to a number of other festivals from Winnipeg to IFOA (Harbourfront) to Brooklyn and beyond. Thank you to them all for supporting Malarky.

It was very heartening to meet three people tonight who recalled Helen Potrebenko’s novel Taxi! And one man who told me he’d even been at the VPL event I organized for Taxi! a few years ago. Even more exciting was the news this week that Taxi! is now going to be taught by one ace history Professor at SFU. I think if I remember rightly we met the particular professor during the performance art intervention Lori W and I did at Not Sent Letters. I love these ripples and how they roll out from one moment and create a new one. Fantastic! Glory be for the brave readers who pick up a book and engage!

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June 5, 2012

Flare Magazine select Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks

Thank you so much to Flare Magazine who selected Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks.

You’ll note they selected it alongside 50 Shades of Six Million Copies. I am fairly confident that my dubious sex in Malarky is far more satisfying for women readers and I welcome all 6 Million of them to read Malarky as soon as possible and then dispute this assertion in the comments section below. I shall happily atone once the millions report back.



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June 3, 2012

On the road with Malarky: Malarky roadie

I have been away on the road with Malarky, so apologies for the interrupted weather forecasts and meanderings. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Bolen Books in Victoria, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and Village Books in Bellingham.

The highlight for me was at the Seattle launch when 10-yr-old Willie Bays, on his flute, played traditional Irish music (trad) with his mother Susan on fiddle. A mighty player and together they played a mighty set. Go raibh mile to them both.

Also, am enormously grateful for the enthusiasm and warmth of booksellers Robert, Casey and Claire (in store order respectively). Most impressed with the woodwork in many of these shops and the array of jigsaw puzzles that surrounded the reading area at Bolen Books. (including one of a teapot)


What about the weather event at Union Station in Toronto yesterday? A bathtub rainfall event! We were grim on this coast around the same time, but I had to shift my overcast sulking when I saw what had been dealt to the floor at Union. A spot I stood but two weeks ago and imagined doing a cozy waltz around (if I could manage such a thing).


In gardening news I am a disgrace. Officially flagged a green one. Some mysterious objecter has plunged a bamboo pole into my plot with green masking tape on it to alert … I am not sure whom. Not the Mason Bees who were happily mining in my strawberry patch today. Thank you to the gardeners who offered help for my beleagured plot and added soil to it in my absence.

The Flowerman has the most magnificent Pink Poppies. They have to be capitalized they are such stunners. He also generously added some manure to my plot and consequently the purple geranium has gone nuclear in size and I think has made for happy bees.


Profuse thanks to all who have read/are reading Malarky and have tweeted or written about it. Lovely to hear of this happening. A book is nothing without readers. I have great faith in readers and it grows deeper by the day.

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May 25, 2012

Quill & Quire June 2012

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May 20, 2012

Irish Voice & Irish Central review Malarky as “most distinctive novel of its kind in a decade.”

Thank you to Cahir O’Doherty who reviewed Malarky over at Irish Central and in print in the Irish Voice: (click on the extract below to read the whole review). I am glad he made the point about working class Irish female eccentrics, I painfully felt their absence from literature and hence wrote (after considerable struggle) Malarky.
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May 17, 2012

Anakana Schofield: Sledging Sentences

Today over at the Afterword (National Post Book Blog) is my final post as Guest Editor. Click on the extract below to read the whole piece.

I have recently commenced learning to play sledge hockey and am curious to see whether this additional sport in my sporting arsenal will influence my prose.

Several writers come to mind for whom sport plays or played a significant part in their lives: Angie Abdou about to run from Montreal to New York, Michael Collins and his arctic marathon running, Haruki Murakami and what he knows about running, Albert Camus and his goalkeeping, George Bowering and baseball, Helen Potrebenko and her gold medal win at the Senior Games for softball, Lori Emerson e-lit expert and competitive amateur cyclist. (Expand this list by all means in the comments section.)

My other weekly sporting indulgence is adult gymnastics (I should admit to a stagnant level of progress over the past two years and a great deal of chatting). I had not practised gymnastics for 25 years when I recommenced the sport on a Wednesday night several years ago. But as a child it was the single most important thing I did.

I returned to it because I considered that within it lay the foundations of my beginnings as a writer. The repetition, the lines, the discipline, the pain and despair. I think I returned because I couldn’t find that same satisfaction in any other form of exercise and was equally frustrated and dwindling on the page.

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May 17, 2012

Anakana Schofield: Mobile Reading

My third blog as guest editor this week of the Afterword, the National Post books blog. (Click on text to read the entire piece)

Many of us visit places in literature that we may never set foot in. I have a strange habit of visiting literature as I set my foot down. Walking and reading. Initially I had some problems with my inner ear and was advised to repeatedly do the things that made me dizzy in order to retrain my brain.

I was an occasional walker and reader, however with this inner ear problem it now made me dizzy, thus I took up long walks with a book in hand and copious amounts of vacuuming (which also made me dizzy).

Once my inner ear generously righted itself, I found another handy employment for the combined art of walking and reading. I did not own a car and had a small child to move around. The bus routes did not always suit us, nor did the shelling out for transit. He loved stories and I knew I could easily walk him five or ten or thirty blocks without protest if I read to him. Hence we crossed Vancouver neighbourhoods to the dulcet tones of six of Arthur Ransome’s sailing novels and hiked up and down to the park reading every volume of Le Petit Nicolas.


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May 17, 2012

Anakana Schofield: Reading Out

Here is my second blog  as guest editor of Afterword the National Post books blog. (Click the extract to read the whole piece)


I’ve been thinking an awful lot about reading lately and specifically about the ways in which we can read and the forms of reading that newer technology affords us.

We are living at a time when access to and the variety of literature has never been so immediate for many of us. (To gain an understanding of what it is like not to have access to literature see Doris Lessing’s 2007 Nobel lecture, “On Not Winning the Nobel Prize.”)

I have long possessed an innate and unpredictable curiosity which has resulted in either a peripatetic or patchy approach (depending on your point of view) to reading. Increasingly I see reading (when a text engages me) as a collage that includes not just the current book itself but what comes through this work from previous readings of other books and where may I read out from this work, or back to this work.

The access facilitated by technology allows us a wider immediacy in our reading. We can read books beside each other or between each other. We can read them for a paragraph or we can read them for the long exhale. This affords us much more of a sense of a continuum with and of our literature, and this is especially important when considering a local or a national literature.

What came before, what’s coming now and what has yet to come, and how all of these things sit beside each other or whether they do or not, is (for me) a salient thinking and departure point.

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May 17, 2012

Guest Editor National Post Afterword: Feeling Tired

All this week I have been guest editing Afterword the National Post book blog.

My first piece published on Monday was titled Feeling Tired: (click on the extract to read the entire piece)

When I re-read my novel Malarky I see that for all the sex and sadness in it, it really is a personal plea to be better at baking and to feel less tired.

The main character in Malarky — “Our Woman” — does not feel as tired as I do. She is a great deal perkier. If I try to think of a novel with a character as tired as I feel, I draw a blank. The best I can come up with is Laura Hillenbrand’s incredible New Yorker essay depicting her life with chronic fatigue.

Tiredness is a strange old mist. So is sleep deprivation. Even more puzzling is insomnia, given it strikes when you are, well, already tired.

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May 17, 2012

Malarky lands in Ontario

Biblioasis launched Malarky in Toronto at the Dora Keogh on Tuesday night. It was a great turn out and a lively, welcoming audience. Thank you to everyone who joined us and to Ben McNally and John Maxwell for hosting us at the Dora. It was lovely to meet you all.

Yesterday I had a splendid time doing two readings and different branches of the Toronto Public Library as part of their Eh Reading Series. I enjoyed the exchanges with both audiences and am grateful to librarians Valentina at Northern District library and Muriel at North York library for hosting my readings and providing such great support to me during them. Also thanks to Sheila the bookseller who attended both events so enthusiastically.

I am en route to Windsor where I’ll launch Malarky tonight at the Phog Lounge and will be live on the CBC Windsor for a radio interview early this evening.


The weather in Ontario was suitably varied and surprising since I know nothing about the weather there. It was very warm and yesterday there was an interlude of brief rapid rain, while last night it was nippy and I had to bundle up a tad.  I had visions of it still being winter in Toronto and am glad that my partner told me not to pack my arctic parka!

I loved the city of Toronto, the brief parts I saw of it and am looking forward to my return in the fall and hope for more opportunites to explore the city. In the meantime I shall hunt for local literature and learn more about it.

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May 14, 2012

Malarky Guelph Launch and radio interview

Tomorrow, Monday May 14, 2012 at 7pm at the Bookshelf in Guelph Ontario I will be reading from Malarky, along with poets Kim Jernigan, Alex Boyd and Argentinian writer Liliana Heker.

Last Thursday I spoke to Dan Evans on the Books for Breakfast radio show: you can hear the interview here (it is in the last 15 mins of the programme. It was a lively and engaging interview, which I very much enjoyed.

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May 14, 2012

Open Book Ontario May contribution

This month I was one of 9 writers, who contributed to a blog posting on the question of how reading influences our own fiction over at Open Book Ontario.

Here’s my contribution: click on it to read the entire blog and all the contributions.

How does reading other writers of fiction inform your work?

The act of reading is more important to me than the act of writing. Reading fiction is central to my daily literary-vascular system, if you like, providing the nutrients that feed my chronic percolation and interrogation. Though reading criticism and non-fiction are also part of my brew.

I wish there was a machine, like the one that measures earthquakes, one could attach to each ear lobe which as you read would produce a graph that recorded where in the brain the words had nestled. Then in turn, when you wrote the same ear probe would record and transcribe which area of the brain was being drawn on. Until that time, I can but speculate. I speculate the reading of poetry, fiction, criticism, and non-fiction all equally inform my work. The combination of ingesting all four satisfies my primary need for departure points.

I’m always after departure points: wondering, wandering and churning. I have a hearty appetite for what many might consider redundant information! If my curiosity is piqued in a particular title/writer or topic or fleeting notion I will high tail it to a bookshop or library (in the dark if necessary) to find the work, right now, as in 5 minutes ago.

As a writer and a reader I’m happy to paddle with uncertainty. I’m constantly perplexed and puzzled and questioning. Departure points come in all kinds of forms, thus they aren’t necessarily delivered by being satisfied. Dissatisfaction can be a great springboard.

When we read for the moment or the paragraph, rather than the whole we also do not demand that every piece of literature serve the same purpose or hit the single high note. I enjoy collaging paragraphs or sentences from different works that speak to each other. This is especially true and necessary in a local literature.

Publishing has become a very singular act, but reading will never be that. Reading demands plurality, it’s hungry, it wants more flavour, more thought, more pages, other pages, the other’s pages. I have great faith in readers and we’re living in a time when readers are ambitious, embracing technology and engaging with a literary evolution where the novel may become a portal to a new media blend of varied art forms. I’m right in there with the best of them, clicking, swiping and still bending the corners of the faithful page.

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May 14, 2012

Malarky interview on CBC North by North West

I was recently interviewed most thoughtfully by Sheryl Mackay on her CBC radio show North by North West, the extended interview is now available for online listening and can be found by clicking below: | North by Northwest | Author Anakana Schofield – “Malarky”.

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May 12, 2012

The Longest Chapter: A stunning engagement with Malarky

Kassie Rose, an NPR book critic, has written a stundering understanding and contemplation of Malarky at the Longest Chapter. It is an engagement with and a reading of the book that actively humbles me because of the degree of thought invested in it. Please read it.

The latter third of Malarky, by virtue of the fragmented form practically overlaying the prose and the prose responding to that form further, requires attentive reading.  The prose refuses to oblige neatly. Instead it unremittingly mimics Our Woman’s state of mind and flux. This demands of the reader, it demands they go beyond what the earlier parts of the book offered more comfortably and it’s precisely at this point in the book some reviewers have disengaged. I find this curious, mostly, because this is where the engagement with the overall form becomes rewarding. And it’s where the more ambitious writing in the book shows up!

In Kassie Rose’s read/critique of the book rather than disengage she upped her already considerable engagement and sewed the whole thing together! Truly remarkable. Reminds me of something way more important than writing and that is the importance of ambition in my own reading.

Below is the final paragraph from the review: click it and read the entire piece. It’s an amazing engagement with my book. I hope such ambition infests me in my own reading.

And so it gets back to those last lines. When we reach them, everything comes full circle, especially regarding something Philomena says in the first episode: “If you are a widow, be careful what you say. I think it’s why they started talking about Jimmy in the bank.” You won’t know what that bank reference means when you first read it, but you will, eventually, and it’s a stunning construct. Indeed, it all makes sense within this crazy-sad theater of a grieving mind that’s a forceful showcase for such things in life. Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered.

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