Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

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!

“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.

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!

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!

Malarky thank you.

Thank you so much to everyone who is engaging with my novel Malarky.

I have received some lovely responses from early readers.

I greatly appreciate every reader who takes precious time to read my book.

Merci encore. Deeply grateful.

I am looking forward to reading at the Vancouver Public Library (Alice McKay room) on Weds evening at 7.30pm.

Vancouver books @ 49th Shelf

I have a piece published today at the 49th Shelf (formerly Canadian Bookshelf) today. It’s a piece in which I finally have an opportunity to talk about Renee Rodin’s memoir Subject to Change, a book I’ve wanted to highlight for a while. I also include Taxi!, Crossings and Adventures in Debt Collection.

Here is the opening to the piece, click the link to read the rest.

The domestic features significantly in my debut novel Malarky. Domestic territory and behaviour are surveyed, examined and subverted within it. Lest this give the impression I am way domestic, I assert from blast off that vacuuming is the sole household task I excel at. If there was a way to vacuum and read simultaneously I would do it. I have succeeded in walking and reading.  I have almost succeeded at knitting and reading, but vacuuming and reading still evades me.

When I was frustrated writing Malarky I would turn on the vacuum. The straight lines, diagonals and heave-ho repetition improved my disposition, but inevitably my mind wandered to books I wanted to revisit. Sometimes to simply reacquaint with a sole paragraph.

Here are some, of the many, local Vancouver books that have caused me to strand the hoover in the middle of the floor and search for a paragraph or moment in them.

To continue reading click here

Malarky reading @ Incite (VPL) March 21, 2012

I am looking forward very much to reading from Malarky, along with Tamara Faith Berger (Maidenhead) and Ben Wood (The Bellwhether Revivals), at the Vancouver International Writers Festival’s reading series Incite.

The reading will take place on March 21, 2012 at 7.30pm in the Alice McKay room at the Vancouver Public Library. Admission is free.

Malarky will be for sale and I will be happy to sign copies.

Thanks a million to VIWF for inviting me. I’m glad to be returning to the Alice McKay room, where we had our Taxi! and Crossings events, of which I still have such strong, warm memories and am excited to meet both authors and learn about their work.

Malarky selected for Barnes & Noble Summer 2012 Discover Great New Writers program

Some wonderful, if not miraculous news for my novel Malarky (publishing March 15): Barnes & Noble have selected Malarky for their Summer 2012 Discover Great New Writers program.

Some of my favourite writers like Colum McCann, Cormac McCarthy and many more were previously been selected for this program. 

I sincerely thank the committee of volunteer booksellers, who made the selection and who volunteer their time and labour to do so. I look forward to hearing from and meeting readers who may discover Malarky because of this program.

Merci encore! This is incredible news!



We did some photography this weekend, along with help from our friend Katrina. I liked how in this photo my head almost seems collaged into the picture. The light in that corner of the studio was quite something. This shot was  taken unbeknownst to me. (photo credit: Jeremy Isao Speier)

Reading Malarky and paragraphing

A couple of Fridays ago I was invited by Michael Turner to read with him (He read from No Apologies, Gilbert’s BC Monthly, Gerry Creede and a poem by Sharon Thesen in Writing magazine) at People’s Co-op Bookstore. The reading series (organized by Rolf Maurer) intends for writers to read from work other than their own, or from their unpublished work. It’s a fresh and enticing approach.

I indulged in some “paragraphing”, selecting mainly single paragraphs from different Vancouver novels and reading them beside each other, sometimes to amplify each other or to respond to one another.  I was interested in the oppositions of emotions or perspectives that results from such. It’s something I’d like to do much more. It’s also something I’ve done/collected by accident and, often, it’s humour that draws me to a specific paragraph.

I chose to read also from Episode 6 of Malarky, my forthcoming novel (April 2012). I deliberately chose one of the most fragmented parts of the book, a section that would not necessarily lend itself so well to a more standard literary reading because the paragraphs within it respond to each other. The episode contains my favourite line in the entire book: “See how I went back and forth?” Once you’ve read the book that line should explain itself.

In that context it has been useful to convene with Denis Donoghue’s literary reckoning since he studied music and literature and music and rhythm feature keenly in the first chapter of his book.

Rhythm became vital to Malarky as I edited it. I recall vividly being at Helen Potrebenko’s for dinner & Crokinole and leaving the room to sit in her study and work on editing my book and having to read it aloud and nearly beat it into the table with my hand. I could hear the crokinole pieces clatter into the board from the other room. I was slightly sad to miss the game, but it had to be done. God Bless Helen for all she did to help me realize this book.

Back to the starting point, the reading — it was one of my most favourite readings and one of my favourite women & writer’s Renee Rodin whispered in my ear that Malarky was “delicious” as I skedaddled off to collect my son.  Joy!


Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Not Sent Letters at VIVO on Saturday night. The documentation for the event is on both the Not Sent Letters blog and youtube I believe. Our piece Walkers had some technical challenges being documented and another version with inserts from the text projection will likely replace the one that’s up there.

It was such an intriguing process for me creating this piece with Leanne. The process mainly was built around and out of response. I can’t quite describe why it was a very different way of working for me (since I’ve built other platforms of response ), but it was. The piece will also be published in some format.



















Malarky, my novel, is now on Amazon sites (incl UK) for pre-order! I love the cover. She’s handsome.  Click on the image to add it to your bookshelves.

Bunty biffs Bataille

I’ve begun working and collating material for my book for the Rereading the Riot Act project/series.

It’s going to involve a paste-up/collage form, and the curator I am working with gave me two books to look at for reference.

After I ploughed through them I felt a small burst of excitement because they reminded me so keenly of some reading material, some thinking before I realized no, it was not George Bataille’s Details, it was the Bunty for Girls Annual, which so absorbed me a child.

Some wonderful questions today floating about at an Q & A session I did in French (!) with a group of 12 year olds about being a writer and my work. Two that particularly tickled me: Do you stay up all night writing and what energy drinks do you use?

Rereading the Riot Act I

               Rereading the Riot Act I. A public action I curated during my Unit/Pitt Residency. At Woodwards, intervention in front of Stan Douglas mural Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971. Two readings by Michael Barnholden & Penny Goldsmith (Walking Slow Helen Potrebenko) & 3 readings of the Riot Act, April 23, 2011.  The second event, a Performance Art Cabaret, at The Waldorf took place the same night as the 2011 Stanley Cup Riot. A publication will appear in Autumn for this project, published by Publication Studio.

Parataxis thank you

Thank you to everyone who joined us last Sunday afternoon for the Parataxis event exploring Helen Potrebenko’s novel Taxi! in today’s city and interfacing the book with what was and what is. Thank you especially to the members of the public who “read shotgun” (open the book randomly and read passages) and to Helen who planned the route and talked to readers as we wandered.  We were also blessed to have the collaboration, performance and generous support of Lori W (Mme Beespeaker) who concurrently documented the event at her blog.

I had a strange crisis before embarking on the event, which has given way to new/re-imaginings and invited input (some helpful, some less so). I set out perhaps to ask a few questions, one certainly was who authors remembering? Another was: what am I prepared to do for this book?  I did not factor that one needs “permission” to revisit repeatedly.  I had not considered that a repeated revisit might invite an assumptive yawn. But then it’s always easier for people to yawn, dismiss than engage.

The actual experience of repeatedly visiting a text like Taxi! (through different interventions) is quite the contrary. Each time we engage with this book it delivers new delights, reflections and questions, not least because of its fragmentary form. Again, a reflection of the working day, the working shift, the working life and this particular city, where the tea does not sit inside the pot for long.

The 11 people who joined us last Sunday engaged with the text in such a committed, enthusiastic and detailed manner which resulted in whole new considerations, especially about the present day.


I am very happy to have been invited to give the first public reading ever from my novel Malarky to the Irish Women’s Network of BC this Sunday. They are a mighty group of women!

Malarky will be published next Spring (2012) by Biblioasis.


Venus with Biceps: David L Chapman & Patricia Vertinsky

Venus with Biceps: A Pictorial History of Muscular Women by David L. Chapman & Patricia Vertinsky

Arsenal Pulp Press, $29.95, 359 pages

Got muscles? Expect scrutiny if you’re female. Venus with Biceps interrogates the history and taboos of female muscularity and pairs a taut consideration with a diligent pictorial unearthing.

This welcome book is interspersed with chapters outlining the limited perceptions placed on women’s bodies and how they have progressed, regressed and progressed again. David L. Chapman, who culled and amassed more than 200 images for this book, unveils a riveting history of strongwomen with roots in theatricality, athleticism, performance, ancient Greece and exhibitionism.

The images come in varied sources and forms: photos, advertisements, illustrations, comics, posters and even cigarette cards, up until the 1980s. We can understand plenty from these rare images, including what informs the continuing relentless scrutiny of women’s bodies today (a scrutiny that increasingly extends to expectations even of the pregnant body).

There have always been ardent opinions on the female form that often bore little relation to biology or the potential women have for developing strong musculature.

The obvious development of muscle -a sign of male power -in women was considered a masculinization of the female body. It is still subject to critique and reactions of fear and disgust in the mainstream celeb-obsessed media. As the art critic and novelist John Berger wrote in Ways of Seeing, “Men are expected to act, women to appear.”

At the start of the 20th century the first strongwomen appeared on the fete, carnival and circus scene. They were viewed with freak-show bemusement by an audience of men seeking titillation. Curiously, there was often a family link to strongwomen; she might be the daughter of a strongman or in the case of Melina, the wife of strongman Louis Cyr. Athleta, a Belgian strongwoman known for lifting half a dozen men and a large barbell, had three daughters who were all raised to be strongwomen.

A shift began in the 1920s that saw a change in attitudes toward embracing a new model of “able-bodied womanhood.”

Victorian prudery was out; the flapper was in. There was more evidence in photos of displaying muscles in contrast to earlier attempts to disguise them, with the hourglass figure upheld as the ideal.

The Great Depression of the 1930s sent attitudes spiralling backwards towards “traditional expectations” and “womanly allure”, although a “lightly muscled body could be considered attractive.”

Emphasis on the female body distinctly changed after and during times of war. Women were required to participate in physical labour and that participation was recognized as vital. The attitude was that women needed to be fit and strong in order to serve their country and the war effort. The 1940s saw the advent of Wonder Woman and role models such as Rosie the Riveter, who personified working women. Towards the end of the 1940s, female athletes also saw more respect for their ability and physique.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, all the progress was essentially lost and muscular women appeared to vanish. Then, in 1977, the first bodybuilding competition that judged women’s muscles -not their beauty -took place at the YMCA in Canton, Ohio.

David L. Chapman and Patricia Vertinsky are to be admired for this excavation and excising of these visual records and stories from obscurity. This is a reading opportunity that can only be described as uplifting, informative and delicious. The book is not weighed down with an overly academic tone; the tone is one of consideration, historical context and fun insight. It does not purport to be an exacting record, but it is a delightful departure point for readers and enthusiasts and a reference to aid the constant inquiries those with mysteriously large calf muscles must engage with, in the experience of this former gymnast reviewer.

Biblioasis will be publishing Anakana Schofield’s novel Malarky next year.

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