I was asleep.
Even though it was 8.30 I was asleep.
I was asleep because in the middle of the night I awoke to, what I understood was, an attempted robbery of a sewer pipe from the repair taking place outside my apartment building. Since I’ve been anticipating the ground opening and getting a confirmed peek at precisely how our sewer system looks (I’d notions of a giant Dickensian/Victorian type series of tunnels. Alas, no. Closer to IKEA than Dickens) I had a certain investment in the pipes not being robbed. Leapt from the bed, barefooted it to the balcony, ready to bellow at the robber. I could hear a noisy, ceramic dragging sound. My defence of the lack of an attempted robbery on the sewer pipe at 4am explains why I was fast asleep when apparently it seems the rest of literary Canada was wide awake.
A text arrived from a friend that read
There followed a great deal of donging type notifications on my phone and before I could really comprehend anything my teenage son sent a series of frantic texts about his forgotten school timetable on the kitchen table and urged me to take a picture of it. Take a picture and text it to me. I could not figure out the camera but took a picture. More texts. Where’s the picture? There was some technical interference as though Pluto was lowering a giraffe between our phone signals and this took some time before I could figure out the 83 notification messages.
The gist of the story is
“Scotiabank Giller Prize jury delivers surprising longlist”
The reason my phone was hopping is because by some strange stroke of a miracle, Martin John is on it. Summarized very well here by Steven Beattie.
“The big winner here, among publishers, is Biblioasis, with three titles represented. The press has been longlisted before, but never quite so robustly, and always for story collections – Kathy Page’s Paradise & Elsewhere in 2014; Clark Blaise’s The Meagre Tarmac in 2011, and Alexander MacLeod’s Light Lifting in 2010. Light Lifting went on to make the shortlist that year; MacLeod is on the jury for this year’s prize.
Schofield’s nomination is a bit of a coup for the Windsor, Ontario, press: not only is it the first time they have had a work of long-form fiction appear on a Giller list, they managed it with a novel that is highly stylized, narrated from the disturbed, fractured perspective of a sexual deviant. The book is a bold departure from Schofield’s debut, 2012’s Amazon.ca First Novel Award winner, Malarky.”
The official announcement including all 12 longlisted titles from a diverse and bold and funny bunch of writers that include Patrick deWitt, Heather O’Neill, Alix Hawley, André Alexis, Marina Endicott and others is found here.
My son and I went to the hairdressers to celebrate. I bought a Vivian Gornick book to celebrate and he scored $9 of pistachios.
I have decided that my spot on this list will be the unofficial universal shared spot, which means it’s shared symbolically by any writer who ever wrote a challenging literary work that they assumed would be the undoing of them and basically had no hope of ever getting on any such list. So there’s a field full of writers sharing it with me. It’s the wireless spot if you like. Maybe you are one of them. Happy Days.
Thank you for all the lovely messages and the warm support. It was a very tough novel to write.
Merci beaucoup. Go raibh míle maith agaibh.
See you on the road over the coming months.
Book prizes and book prize culture are problematic, I have always acknowledged this and been critical of the truncated effect they can have on our reading rather than recognizing literature exists on a continuum and our ambition should be to read out and read between and beside different works and texts. And to create more challenging works.
How and ever, I was thrilled to see Malarky nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize today firstly because of the books and writers she sits beside: Anne Fleming, Bill Gaston, Yasuko Thanh and my fellow Biblioasis author CP Boyko and secondly because it’s a regional prize that acknowledges a local literature exists. And thirdly, for the completely obscure reason that it reminded me of Ethel Wilson’s description of Marine Drive and the houses being built there and made me ponder how would she contemplate the subsequent condification that’s happening today. And fourthly, for the inadvertent discovery reading all the nominations that Dan Francis has written a book on the History of Trucking in BC that had until today completely passed me by and now I’m intrigued to discover it.
Here is the National Post story on the BC Book Prize nominations: click on the headline and follow the link in the story to the full listings including aforementioned trucking book.
Anakana Schofield, Bill Gaston and George Bowering are among the authors shortlisted for the 2013 B.C. Book Prizes, it was announced Thursday.
The nominees for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, for the best work of fiction, are: C.P. Boyko for Psychology and Other Stories (Biblioasis), Anne Fleming for Gay Dwarves of America (Pedlar Press), Bill Gaston for The World (Hamish Hamilton Canada, Penguin Group Canada), Anakana Schofield for Malarky (Biblioasis) and Yasuko Thanh for Floating Like the Dead (McClelland & Stewart Ltd.)
Henceforth, I think I shall document all book prize related talk according to the snacks served and the likelihood of inclement weather on the day they are handed out. Also, I shall look for that Marine Drive paragraph I mention in Swamp Angel. I am certain that’s the title that contains it.
We shall now return to the Pineapple Express and car review forums. This last and third day of the Pineapple Express showed according to the video I watched, that the system is coming from a South West subtropical to the right of Hawaii on the map. (That a long way for this volume of rain! Respect!) It shifted to the right on the map. Our figures for rainfall were not too astonishing, but for North & West Vancouver eek. I commend the mud on not giving way.
Two earthquake events up the coast in Masset, Haida Gwaii: 4.6 & 4.2 today to be noted attentively.
Malarky by Anakana Schofield (Biblioasis, $19.95, 222 pages)
Unaccountably overlooked by this year’s prize juries, Anakana Schofield’s ribald story of an Irish farmwife’s descent into late-life cougardom and mental breakdown is a standout debut and one of the best Canadian novels of the year: the sort of book that forces you to read it over again as soon as you finish. AG
Thank you Alex Good and The Toronto Star for such a spirited inclusion and description of Malarky.
Delighted to sit beside intriguing works like A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, Rawi Hage’s Carnival and my ole favourite buoyant Leanne Shapton! Not to mention a sister Biblioasis author Alice Petersen (All the Voices Cry).
Pretty soon I will be gearing up to attend a number of Writers Festivals which I am very fortunate to have been invited to this Autumn/Fall season. At these festivals I will be reading from Malarky and also participating in various panel events.
I begin at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 23, 2012 in New York. Here’s a link to the incredible programming called the Book End events. These are all free events taking place the week leading up to the festival and include 50 events.
These Book End events are in addition to the actual festival which takes place on Sunday 23, 2012 and will feature 280 authors and 104 panels. I am thrilled to be included in such an ambitious event and wish every city could enjoy the same. What I love about this particular festival is the events are for the most part all free.
The festival events will be uploaded on Sept. 4, 2012, so I shall post again and offer the link to them.
After Brooklyn I move to Ontario where I’ll be reading for certain at the University of Trent reading series and possibly in Ottawa. (I will also return to Toronto for the IFOA (Harbourfront) Festival in late October.) My next stop after Ontario is Winnipeg’s Writers Festival THIN AIR I couldn’t be more excited as Winnipeg has a long labour history (including general strike re-enactments) so must put my research clogs on and be sure to take in some of the museums or such before I depart. I heard word of a train museum so must look it up. THIN AIR have already uploaded the list of my events with details. Click here to read. I will be reading with Daniel Allen Cox, (a Montreal writer I believe) and Missy Marston.
I return to Vancouver to appear at the Word On The Street, which is something of a homecoming for me as the first year I lived in Vancouver I performed an extract from my play at that very festival. I’ll be reading in the Canada Writes Tent on the Sunday around 12.20pm. (Link to follow)
In advance I thank all the volunteers and committees and staff who make these festivals possible for their labour and for generously inviting me to participate. Merci, merci. And my publisher Biblioasis for their support and The University of Trent for hosting me in their reading series.
What an incredible joy and privilege today to sit alongside the work of these extraordinary writers and poets featured on the website/blog of Little Star Journal, who have extracted a chunk of Malarky today and had this reckoning on it:
“Move over Molly Bloom, Anakana Schofield has mastered the hundreds of voices that make up one person, and the negotiations, confusions, and occasional consolations that transpire among them. Her story of an extraordinary/ordinary mother and how she lost her beloved son is a journey into the heart of love and the fragile bonds of the self.”
The gesture behind the establishment and ongoing work of Little Star is a firm nod to the importance of the continuum in literature and the moments behind us and ahead of us and hidden from us therein: especially the moments in translation that we so often foolishly ignore.
Malarky is a book concerned with moments. I think all writers and readers have their moments with a book. Sometimes they can be hard or disappointing or challenging. I certainly had many of those over the past decade. Today is one of my happiest moments.
To read click A miracle from Anakana Schofield
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
So touched to see Malarky mentioned in the Loose Leaves column in today’s Irish Times. Thank you so much to the journalists who work in the book section there and to everyone who has responded warmly and with an open mind to my novel. It has been a very long 10 years, so am deeply appreciative.
Quill and Quire included my novel Malarky in their Spring Preview 2012 article today :
Biblioasis is comparing Irish-Canadian writer Anakana Schofield’s debut novel, Malarky ($19.95 pa., April), to Brecht’s Mother Courage and Beckett’s Endgame. When Philomena discovers her son canoodling with another man and is informed of her husband’s (possibly invented) indiscretions, she embarks on a journey of discovery that involves grief, resilience, and something like madness.
Malarky will be published in March, the publication date has been brought forward a tad.
I am also looking forward to Anne Fleming’s short fiction collection, Marie-Claire Blais novel (Mai at the Predator’s Ball), Teresa McWhirter’s stories and Tim Bowling’s unscrupulous salmon canners practices and numerous others books this year.
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.
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.