Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

May 9, 2012

Raving: Georgia Straight reviews Malarky

Glad to read this close reading of Malarky by Michael Hingston in the Georgia Straight today. What I appreciate especially about this review is how the reviewer tuned into that latter third of Malarky. An astute read on the book indeed. I also like how the review commences in that third, refusing to chronicle in sequence, a piece that refuses to deliver in a chronological sequence.  (Review that responds to form? or reviews out from the book? )

I also enjoyed the headline:

Click on the extract to read in its entirety.

Anakana Schofield masters madness in Malarky



“Madness is one of fiction’s most enduring subjects, but it requires some finesse in order to be done justice. You can’t just push a character off the cliff of mental health and then catch up with them at the bottom. That’s cheap, and uninteresting besides. The real challenge is to document what happens to that person, second by second, on their way down—because no two falls are exactly the same.

This helps explain why Malarky, the debut novel from Anakana Schofield, an Irish-Canadian author and critic who calls Vancouver home, stands head and shoulders above many of its peers. And she’s got competition: in 2012 alone we’ve seen Ross Raisin’s Waterline, about the rapid self-destruction of a middle-aged Glaswegian widower, and Amelia Gray’s Threats, a chilling, stylized exercise in mood and faulty memory. Both of these books are very good, but Schofield’s is better.”



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May 9, 2012

Washing retrieval wind

I noted a sharp wind ouside just now when I pulled in the washing off the line. I was surprised at the chill in it and checked the weather station which claims an 8 degrees. But there was something enlivening in it after a particularly draining day. An encore quality. The reward for carrying on. Must remember to dip out and take note of night weathers and temperatures, they can be so satisfying.

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May 9, 2012

Seasoned awakening

We are entering the season of snow felt flooding forecast, a time I usually pay attention to. There were flood predictions for the Fraser River last year or the year before that fortunately did not materialize. I am very fond of the Fraser, well the few patches I have glanced at.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre says a higher than normal snowpack has created an “exceptional” seasonal flood risk.

On Tuesday, the centre released its latest report on snowpack conditions, outlining which regions are at the greatest risk.



Finally today I got my arse down to the community garden to attend to my plot of nuclear sized weeds. What a tragedy she is this year. The flowerman kindly put some manure on my plot a few weeks ago, so that will help with the digging and pulling. The gardeners were out by the half-a-dozen and generously inquired about my book, bless them. There’s a plan to help me move some soil to my plot at the work party on Saturday — ah community at its best.

This year the soil is looking so much happier after my unfortunate attempt to drown it in peat last year. Very bad idea. I am off the peat! Quite a few of the gardens are coming to life. A couple have these space age red insulation contraptions around single plants. They are bit like swollen or inflated sleeping bags and look like they contain contraband, but I think it’s most likely just tomato plants or basil.

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May 6, 2012

Winnipeg Free Press: Malarky is beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic

Saturday was robust for Malarky and my book has been blessed with engagement and understanding for which I am grateful.

The Winnipeg Free-Press praised Malarky as “alternately beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic work of literary fiction that seamlessly brings together many disparate themes and ideas.”


“Philomena’s love for Jimmy, the love of a mother for her son, is the central theme of this novel. But the book has much to ask and much to say about many other topics as well, among them empowerment through sex, loneliness in marriage, the futility of war, the strains of immigration and the margins of mental health.

Schofield’s ability to tie all these together in such an original, quirky, tender and eloquent way is to be commended…”

To read the rest of the review click here

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May 5, 2012

Lovely review in National Post for Malarky

Very positive review in tomorrow’s National Post for Malarky: I was glad to see the words Castlebar and hiccups in a book review finally. I hope the Castlebar Library in Co Mayo will be stocking a copy of Malarky.

“Being plagued by hiccups while incarcerated at the psych ward of Castlebar hospital in northwest Ireland is just one of the many troubles of Phil (a.k.a. Philomena, Our Woman, and Kathleen), the distraught woman-on-the-verge at the centre of Malarky, a delightfully offbeat debut novel by Vancouver’s Anakana Schofield.

“Facing betrayal and bursts of chaotic libido from husband and child alike, Our Woman, by turns livid, raging, helpless, frustrated and confused (“confused being the polite local term for possessed”), seeks vengeance against an indifferent, philandering husband. Deciding she “wants to consume rather than be consumed,” Our Woman opts for some carnal adventuring of her own and — surprisingly — close mimicry of her son’s fevered explorations.”

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May 5, 2012

Vancouver Sun reviews Malarky

Two very positive reviews for Malarky on this raining good reviews Friday:

The first in tomorrow’s Vancouver Sun (complete with garages and mad Dr Who woman-in-pipe pictures)

Malarky does a great job revealing emotional distress in straightforward (and graphic) language while using shifting time frames and narrators to develop the enormous complexity of grief, memory and mental collapse.  The novel is a challenging read, but for all the right reasons.

(Click on text above to read entire review)

Les Bazso/PNG

VANCOUVER, BC: APRIL 27, 2012 - - Anakana Schofield, author of a novel called Malarky in Vancouver on Thursday, April 27, 2012.      (Les Bazso,PostMedia)      (see Tracy Sherlock  story)

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May 4, 2012

Little Tokyo in the Industrial Playground

Great night at the Little Tokyo in the Industrial Playground opening at the Firehall Arts Centre — Go see Jeremy Isao Speier’s installation, it looks amazing in that space. Thanks to everyone for the discourse on the Rolf Knight extracts I read. I really enjoyed thinking about our city’s industrial playgrounds and their eradication. I hope some kind of collaborative essay series may emerge out of our discussion.

Now it’s time to cook a frozen curry.

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May 4, 2012

Nifty plugs for Malarky II: Modern Tonic choose Malarky as May Book Pick

I was particularly delighted to learn this week that my novel Malarky has been selected as a May Book Pick by Modern Tonic (Gay approved pop culture gems before they’ve been co-opted by everyone else)

Here’s what Modern Tonic had to say about Malarky

“We’re all for quirky, character-driven novels, and this insightful and sharply funny book delivers in spades. The protagonist, “Our Woman,” leads a working class Irish farm life, but after seeing her Afghanistan-bound son engage in hanky-panky with another man in the fields, and learning that her deceased husband may not have been the man she thought, goes on a truth-seeking odyssey of self-discovery.”

I was especially thrilled to find Malarky on a list that contained the wonderful Alison Becdel’s new book!

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May 4, 2012

Nifty plugs for Malarky I

Malarky has received a nifty plug/review at this Something Daily blog: (click on the text for the complete review)


The end result is one of the most memorable voices in recent years in CanLit, and a very distinctive book. Schofield spent ten years crafting this character, and it’s evident she has. “Our Woman,” as she’s called in most of the book, feels perfectly rendered and we root for her with an uncommon compassion. She accomplishes this largely through the use of an atypical narrative structure.

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April 28, 2012

“Malarky is like nothing else, and what everything should be,” Kerry Clare reviews Malarky

When I wrote Malarky I chose a rotating point of view, I wanted that 360 degree circle, in close up, on one woman. I wanted one ordinary woman to matter, so I committed to her in my prose in an unremitting, relentless manner. I called her Our Woman to complete that sense of rotation as I wanted the reader to feel ownership over her or to possess her. To be engaged in her life like you might follow a favourite sports team (to cheer for her, to despair for her) or something you’re passionate about and long to have intimate knowledge of. (I should say that I learn so much about this book from readers, their responses make me aware of things I’d no notion of — the book forms new or unnoticed shadows.)

I never anticipated my novel would be embraced and understood with this same 360 degree wholeness. It is a great privilege to be understood, that’s all I can say about Kerry Clare’s careful and engaged reading of Malarky. Please click on this extract to read the entire review.

Malarky is a journey beyond the limits of love, an equally sad and hilarious portrait of motherhood.

Malarky is like nothing else, and what everything should be,” is something I wrote down this weekend. First, because it’s as funny as it’s dark, and also because it dares readers to be brave enough to follow along an unconventional narrative. Though the winding path is only deceptively tricky– Our Woman’s voice is instantly familiar, and the shifting perspectives remain so intimate and immediate that the reader follows. Consenting to be led, of course, which is the magic of Malarky. This is a book that will leave you demanding more of everything else you read.

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April 27, 2012


During the past 48 hours I have possibly had more photos taken of me than in the previous 41 years. (I grew up in the instamatic era…I still remember flash cubes on cameras)

Yesterday’s photoshoot involved a great deal of weather and building contemplation. I was most fortunate to work with a lovely photographer named David who introduced me to a whole series of streets and areas in Richmond I’d never encountered before. I also learned, how many buildings locally are painted the identical tan colour because we were looking for buildings with solid bright colours. It was a rainy day yesterday, but a great deal of fun was had and I now have a micro-geography (as Tony Judt might say) of odd buildings that are brightly coloured dotted here and there in distant Richmond, along with a whole new appreciation of industrial landscapes and what they offer the eye and the ear.

Today’s photo adventure was more local and the photographer was easily persuaded of the merits of an industrial pipe that I’d admired wandering past in recent days and today got to stand inside. We had a very nice chat walking to and from my suggested spots. I even learnt about broga. (Brotherly yoga aka yoga for blokes)

Visual journeys both. I was lucky to work with such nifty and inspired dudes.


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April 23, 2012

Mighty Malarky review in mighty New Brunswick

Click on the image to enlarge and read this mighty review for Malarky written by Chad Pelley published in the Telegraph Journal Newspaper (New Brunswick) last Saturday. Thank you for reading and reviewing my book New Brunswick!

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April 21, 2012

It was a sunny …

It was a sunny Friday which allowed the cherry blossoms some respite from their chronic bathing latterly. They stick to the bottom of shoes in an unflattering manner and, for that matter, a flattening manner. I sometimes feel a bit disraught at that beautiful canopy being trampled and mushed underfoot.

Yesterday co-incidentally I encountered a Canada goose who initially seemed distraught. He wandered over to my car window and honked at me and then ambled around staring. I worried he/she might be injured so returned on foot to have a chat with him. What a beautiful creature! He was occupying the road unconcerned by the threat of traffic, preening himself. They have such agile necks and if troubled by an itch they do a loop, invert their heads upside down and scratch the back of their neck/heads. Finally he/she lifted his back plummage out, umbrella-ish, in demonstration mode before settling on a patch of grass and continuing to ignore the urban passings. I was very struck by the way this goose occupied public space and was undeterred by the noise or systems.


There have been some wonderful reviews of Malarky this week that I will post tomorrow once the sun has risen.

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April 16, 2012

Sunburnt with cherry blossoms.

On the nose, unrelated to cherry blossoms.

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April 13, 2012

Sunny with cherry blossoms

Take your guitars and headaches out into the sunshine, the cherry blossoms are waving….

Honestly this blast of sunshine has awakened the roots of my teeth.


I was very interested to learn this morning that the word for socks in Quebecois is “bas” as in “va-cherches tes bas?” (this is a mangled likely mis-spelled attempt to say go and get your socks). There’s something very geographic or GPS about the word, which could only prove a problem if people started wearing sock on their heads.

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April 8, 2012

Happy Days: Malarky Vancouver Launch

Malarky Vancouver Launch

People’s Co-op Bookshop launch for Malarky April 1, 2012

Thank you to the great crowd of warm people who came out over the three hours and bought every single copy in the shop! It was so wonderful to see you all. Thanks to my son and Cameron Wilson for playing great fiddle music and laments and to Lori W. who made her debut on ukelele singing one my fave songs Miss Otis Regrets so beautifully. Thank you to Grandma Suzu and Toni for the fine food and thanks to Lindsay Brown and Siobhan Airey for these pics. Happy Days!

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April 8, 2012

Flying duck flu lurgi flattens forecaster

Two significant weather events that I am unable to report on beyond the words extensive hailstones and a visit from Monsieur Soleil due to a bout of the lurgis that, well, hands up if you took tylanol into the double digits during the last 24 hours. We’re in this together.

Some kind of mutated flying duck flu with lungs that feel like two heavy sacks of coal. Misery. If you are well do a dance and down a double scotch for me. Your weather forecaster is indisposed.

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April 5, 2012


Scott Esposito has written a thoughtful, interrogative review of Malarky on his blog Conversational Reading.

I really appreciate this review because it is, as reviews should be, an engaging piece of writing in its own right. (Of course I might quarrel with his notion on ethos, preferring McGahern’s idea that the particular is the way to the general but that’s for another blog.) I was fascinated by his analysis of the prose and will give thought to his questions. Click on the quote below to read the entire review.

In terms of structure and voice, Malarky is an exemplary read, showing itself to be far ahead of most debut novels.


Thanks to Scott Esposito and Marcus Pactor for reading and writing these considerations of my work. Much appreciated.

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April 5, 2012


Some thoughtful and interrogative reviews/ blogs have been posted about Malarky.

Marcus Pactor wrote a mid-book review, which is a curious concept that I might join him in writing sometime. I like the continuum that a mid-book review gives to the act of reading. It establishes that it’s ongoing.

Some extracts from Pactor’s blog

“The personal becomes political” is  worn, too.   Schofield turns it around so that the political becomes personal.   We’re very much in the post-9/11 world, but Our Woman’s mostly absorbed by her own life.  She’s interested in Afghanistan mostly because that’s where her homosexual son Jimmy took off to.  She’s interested in Syria because that’s where her latest lover’s from.  When she and her husband watch the news and see riots on the West Bank, she comments: “’Well whether they’re nutters or not,’ I said, ‘they’re lovely looking people.  Look at the great faces on those young men, see the elasticity in their skin and the beards make them look wise when they’re all but twenty.’”  This personalization is not a reduction.  New meanings and understandings of human value are assigned.  They have little to do with neocons and their useless counterparts.

Sentence-wise, she’s also  excellent.  You can hear the Irish voice articulating lovely, inventive metaphors. “One of her fleeting Ballyhaunis Bacon moments has just scraped by her, when the pork of her husband’s action clouts her forcefully out of nowhere and she finds brief comfort in the thought of him, entering the factory to have his flesh separated from his bones for betraying her the way he has.”

Read the entire post here

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April 4, 2012

Joe Strummer weather

Well the weather continues to be peculiar.

Today it appeared to be on brink of a Joe Strummer moment.

But the cooker turned up the overnight low for us to 5 degrees. (From the predicated 2 degrees)

The cherry blossoms aren’t too fussed by the cold, they’re out here and there.

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