Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

G-Scene Gay Magazine review Malarky (from the heart of Brighton and Cove! Yeah!)

It’s a tightly written and intimate story with the narrator taking us through various events in her life, all centred around the deaths of her husband and son, but not in any particular order. It’s deeply personal and funny as hell, its set in modern rural Ireland and echo’s the slow pace of change, quietly marking the modern with strangeness.  It’s more of the story of a memory and is both startlingly vivid and hallucinogenic on occasion. I loved it. ‘Our Women’ who talks us though her life with, and after, the deaths is an authentic voice of a certain type of Irish Women, seemingly content until a chance meeting volcanically changes her life view.

Anakana Schofield  has constructed a tender and honest study of grief without tearing up the thick boggy peat of memory. It’s carefully cut and dried then smokes on the hearth in front of us as we watch the  effects of death curl up like smoke from an Irish farmers’ fire, it made me snort, laugh, look out the window with my eyes misting up and hold onto it tight. This book seemingly about death is full of the energy of desperate life.  Its languid essence is shockingly broken by some quite startling, and very funny moments of narrative energy, but the entire way through there is this subtle tender feeling from the author of her really caring for her characters. She loves words too; they tumble about in all sorts of delightful ways.

Schofield’s love of prose, the soft lilting dance of Irish dialect and speech and her spot on rendering of the spiralling decent into madness makes this book twist and shimmer and change from one thing to another as you read it, or rather listen to it as the narrators voices are so clear even when they are unreliable.

I was surprised by this book, and also delighted by it, the unadulterated clear voice of its narrator wrapping itself around me and pulling me into the book, all small details and day to day shades and shadows of real life with brilliant flashes of surreal action thrown in. Rubbing alongside James Joyce’s Ulysses (which echo’s through this book) this straggly dark inner monologue touches on the life of a rural mature women who’s vivid erotic imagination of men having sex with each other is contrasted with her endless domestic chores, death shatters her small seemingly secure world which has already been severely dented by revelations from within her own family; her husbands infidelity and her son’s gayness. Her life breaks open and she embarks on a series of adventures which as are funny as they are profoundly moving.

It’s a book about a journey as much as about grief, it’s about love and release, it’s about betrayal and the nature of truth and ends with some subtle dream like twist to suggest the story was rather more than it’s parts. Oh! it’s so sharp and honest in parts and this is where the rich sea of humour comes out, the honesty is searing, the personal refection spot on and the clash of what is with what might be gives out smouldering sparks of humour, its unremittingly dark too, like an Irish winter sky.

A treat to read something so well crafted and ‘our women’s’ forlorn but flamboyant voice has stayed with me long after I finished the book.

For once the publisher’s description is spot on “A wickedly funny and wonderfully deranged literary debut introducing a brilliant new voice in contemporary Irish fiction”

Review by Eric Page

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