Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

UK/IRELAND events

I am presently doing events in the UK:

Tomorrow  30 May: I’ll be reading with Yuri Herrera at Burley Fisher Books,400 Kingsland Road, E8 4AA, London at 7pm.

1 June: Waterstones, Cork, Ireland. 6.30pm I am reading with Lisa McInerney & Pat Cotter.

3 June: Listowel Writers’ Week, Listowel, Ireland with Patrick deWitt 7.30pm.

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Would like to sincerely thank Eimear McBride who very generously interviewed me last Thursday at The Book Hive in Norwich. It was one of my favourite events and discussions ever about MARTIN JOHN. Also, thanks to the Greenwich Book Festival this weekend, at which I did a splendid event with Alex Pheby and Andrew Harkinson, moderated by the excellent Susanna Rustin. The tour kicked off in Dublin at the International Literature Festival last Tuesday with a great event with Lucy Caldwell.  Thanks indeed to Selina Guinness, our moderator, for her very close & considered readings of both books. Much gratitude to these festivals & bookshops for inviting me & especially to the engaged and responsive audiences at all these events.

Welcome Irish & British readers

A big hearty welcome to British and Irish readers. I am delighted Malarky is now published in the UK and Ireland. (and Aus, NZ, S Africa, India & all commonwealth countries). I very much hope you find my novel engaging and thank you most sincerely for reading it.

There was a lovely review in Saturday’s Irish Independent and a nice shout out from Colum McCann in today’s Sunday Independent, Colum  chose Malarky as one of his summer recommendations. Thank you to Colum, a writer I have long admired and respected.

This week I am in Dublin doing interviews about Malarky. I’ll be on TV3 The Morning Show on Wednesday.  I am enjoying being home. The big story is my sister’s greyhound Sally. I send special love out to greyhound owners, rescue services, since this dog is exceptional. Affectionate and both snoozy and sweet. (Not quite what I envisaged from a greyhound). Today we walked along the canal with her. I am not so much of a dog person, but Sally has converted me to these wonderful creatures. I may have to revise my ambition to be reincarnated as a penguin.

There was patchy drizzle this morning in Dublin, which by night gave way to a stronger downpour. Gardens are looking terrific from the recent hot spell. And it’s good to have access to Cadbury’s Turkish Delight and more importantly lively exchange and great friends.

Next week I will be in London talking to the media about Malarky. If you wish to interview me please do contact either me (mrsokana@gmail.com) or my publicist Henry Jeffreys at Oneworld in London. Or Cormac Kinsella my publicist in Dublin.

More weather reports to follow.

Best to all for now, AK.

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.

486

486 people committed suicide in Ireland in 2010 and 2011. (possibly higher than this number)

RTE Frontline have sensibly done a programme/discussion to address what Ireland can do to tackle mental health problems.

Phyllis MacNamara so brave and articulate to tell her husband’s story. Very poignant her insights, especially on anxiety. I hope they listen to her. (“Nobody knew what to do, there isn’t any place in the system…”)

I was surprised to read doing some research that the statistics for suicide are not necessarily higher during Christmas. I had surmised they likely peaked during that time. I was also surprised to see that Ireland had the lowest suicide rates until the 1950’s. That’s no longer the case, this year the numbers are high with one Offaly coroner describing suicide as “rampant” in rural Ireland. (RTE Jan 2011) By April this year Ireland’s suicide rate was described by Minister of State for Health Kathleen Lynch as “the highest in its history” (Source: Irish Times April 8, 2011). A letter to the Irish Times last week cited that “…from 2003 to 2011, Ireland lost 4,408 young men and women to suicide.”

How are we to reach people and persuade or convince them otherwise? How can the stigma of mental illness be overcome? How can problems that seem insurmountable appear otherwise? Is our general inarticulateness around death also contributing? Why do we continue to understand so little about the brain?

“All three main party leaders spoke Irish with clarity and, in a welcome departure from normal practice, did not cut across one another.”

 

(Source: The Irish Times: Irish language: not just a Gaeltacht issue)

“SOME 350 dangerous or “developerabandoned” housing estates, in need of urgent work for the safety of residents, have been identified in a Government report published today.

The developments represent almost 8,000 houses and account for about one in six of the 2,800 “ghost” estates identified last October by the National Housing Development Survey, which was commissioned by the Department of the Environment.”

(Source The Irish Times)

 

I have been having a number of adventures in ereading. I’ve held a long curiosity for web books and found myself thinking about how such might be employed when considering narrative ideas. I read a fair bit online, usually factual, anthropology, political, or some writers I’ve read exclusively online because their work can be hard to obtain or because my appetite for it will not wait until I can find a hard copy. And webcomics I’ve often enjoyed.

The reading is normally in intense bursts of middling duration. Rarely have I attempted to digest an entire 300 page text. Last night I did just that and the experience was a middling one. The book concerned contained images and I skipped rapidly through them. The text wasn’t too bad on the eyes, it was friendly enough (the content is another story), but I read it at a galloping pace which satisfied me. How and ever, I was disappointed by how little the images did for me that I declared it over to the ceiling for me and digitized images in books.

Today I tried the BC online books initiative through the Vancouver Public Library (available here if you hold a VPL library card http://www.vpl.ca/electronic_databases/cat/C88

I examined several titles. Initially the BC online books beta reader gave me trouble, I could not understand how to turn the pages with any ease and efficiency, however once I established an account and downloaded the library ereader plugin, matters improved. The reader interface is fairly basic, but critically the quality of the print improved & the images were decent in comparison to yesterday’s experience during which I was ready to write off all images via ebooks.

The volume of information and access to 650 titles blows my head off my shoulders and around the room. However it returns to land when I consider that it is so uncomfortable for me to experience books on a laptop I might only manage a few chapters ….

I am now dead curious to try an ereading handheld device and see how it compares.

It concerns me, the strain on the eyes. My vision is now at the point where I can’t read information on jars and medicines. I have to put my glasses on. It’s certainly diminished compared to what it was. It was always good enough to get away without glasses despite being given them.

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It’s a long time since I ran on pavement or grass. Yesterday time did not permit to do anything else and I was desperate for some exercise. God it is so difficult and hard on the joints, I’d forgotten. Also, how one experiences the damp whiff off fungus, trees and so on. I could not understand why it was so much more uncomfortable to run on what are normal everyday circumstances compared to the much more unnatural heave of an airborne ski shifting machine …. It was also cold. I ran in a thermal shirt with 2 further layers, despite two laps of a significant sized track (6 city blocks at least) I did not warm up!  But it was a great observational experience.

After the run, there were birthday’s to attend to and we had a visit from our favourite babog who has a sense of humour I’ve rarely encountered previously in a seven-month-old. He adores my son and lets this be constantly known by turning his head, seeking him out and letting out constant laughter at the sight or sound of him.  It’s currently one of my favourite soundtracks — the dotey dote that he is.

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I am receiving constant and diverse weather reports. Shocking weather events taking place across the pond. The water was turned off in Dublin and other places from 7pm -7am to deal with shortages. My poor mam has no water at all. (only her well water requiring an icy trek ) She said it was so cold that the gas inside the cylinder, inside the house froze! She’s still chirpy in spite of it.

There’s a bail out special on RTE Radio One right now, announcement due around 6.30pm on this bailbollocky.

Conveniently I am immersed in a book about the depression in 1931.

Fantastic turn out at the march yesterday, fair play to the plain people of Ireland on an effin freezing cold day. Powerful stuff. Christy singing to Joe McNamara.

Ireland: The challenge of failure. Fintan O’Toole

Fintan O’Toole, over at Open Democracy, telling it how it is and how it might be.

The Irish government’s request to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund for a financial bailout to rescue its broken economy reflects a far deeper decay in the country’s political culture and institutions. This is the very moment to begin to transform them, says Fintan O’Toole.

The long-threatened arrival of the IMF bogeymen was a major loss for Ireland as a proud, independent nation. But this should not blind us to the opportunity to reinvent and restore our sovereignty.

On the News at One on 18 November, the RTÉ reporter Brian Dowling mentioned that one of his colleagues had called the department of finance that morning to ask where the talks between Irish officials and representatives of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund were taking place and who exactly was attending. He was told: “You really have to ring the IMF.” The international bankers, it seems, were already in charge – even of the job of telling the Irish people who is in charge.

The arrival of the IMF was a case of long threatening come at last. Those three letters have been the secular equivalent of the fires of hell: the ultimate warning against resistance to the government’s strategy of making the rescue of the banks the overwhelming national priority.

The bogeymen are now in the building, but their coming has been foreshown so often that it seems both inevitable and anti-climactic. Watching the furtive shots of the disappointingly avuncular-looking Ajai Chopra, whose IMF team had come to scrutinise our books and negotiate our fate, it was hard not to think of TS Eliot’s line from The Hollow Men: “This is the way the world ends: Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Or, in our case, with a drone. Instead of drums and trumpets, our little apocalypsewas played out against the background noise of the taoiseach and the minister for finance murmuring evasive and mechanical denials. When the world’s media tuned to a Dáil speech by Brian Cowen on 16 November that was expected to address the crisis, they heard only robotic assurances that there was no “impending sense of crisis” and impenetrable Cowenspeak about the “front-loading of consolidation”.

If anything, indeed, the only thing the government managed to communicate in the course of the week was its own terrifying irrelevance. With Brian Cowen assuring us that Ireland is “fully funded” and Brian Lenihan claiming as late as 17 November that the Irish banks had “no funding difficulties”, the effect was merely to present Irish self- government to the world as a comic distraction from the real business at hand.

The two Brians painted themselves as the most deluded optimists since Comical Alistood before the cameras in Baghdad and insisted with a straight face that the Iraqi army was crushing the Americans, even as the latter’s tanks appeared on the horizon.

The new motto of the state seemed to be drawn from the Roman satirist Juvenal’s summation of autocratic folly: Hoc volo, sic jubeo, sit pro ratione voluntas. Or: This is what I want, I insist on it. Let my will stand as a reason.

(this part republished under Creative Commons licence)

READ ENTIRE PIECE HERE

 

Worth a watch: Vincent Browne nailing Cowen and discussion that followed after bail out was admitted.

The implications of the bail out for the poor in Ireland are terrifying. Sovereignty was about the only thing protecting them and with that gone it’s open season on social welfare, old age pensions, health, minimum wage, education, students and so on. Before the boom it might surprise people to know that there was a small sense of social conscience from the govt (regardless of political affiliation since I lived there under both Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael govts). There was some understanding of what being poor actually meant and what was a living wage, even a basic one. I’ve a hard time imagining that decisions taken by a non-elected body, who have no experience of living in the country and whose only goal is the recuperation of their billions will have any consideration for these people and what they live with.

Carl O’Brien had a series of moving articles about suicide in The Irish Times this week. Each day another story was told. What came through in all of them was how ill-equipped the mental health system was to help any of these individuals. There was no effective front line response whatsoever when their loved ones sought support for the individual who went on to die by suicide. That was the mental health system under the boom times, add the undoubted savage cuts that are coming to this system and the increase in the suicide rate as people crumble under the stress they’re living with and what will we have then?

The mild mannered Bryan Dobson betrays his (and the country’s) annoyance in questioning a belligerent Brian Lenihan who is like Tufty the Squirrel no icecream truck will ever knock me down, not even if I happen to be driving one into the wall.

Have the IMF already introduced austerity measures on Nob Nation podcasting — we went over there hoping for big time treasure given the endless material all week — and only found the Cork Special with Roy Keane.

Emotions are stirred, indeed. Vin B attempting to Address the slither. (go to 13.32) “A time of great shame and despondency” (on self determination) and on and more. “Shameful, humiliating … the sense of arrogance at the root of what caused this crisis shows no sign of abating… ” ” a sense of delusion among the Fianna Fail leadership … they don’t seem to know the gravity of what’s happening..” “We are inviting the IMF in” … “You guys are completely delusional … this is being forced upon us …”

The unbelievable slime from this FF politician, you couldn’t find such in the largest, most over populated, prone to lack of cleaning fish tank! Audacious slime!

Following this, latter days, has almost proved a full time job. Gratitude to my amigos/amigas on the South side there for keeping me abreast and translating.

The Mystery Mots of Olli Rehn … a stirring title for a novel, no?

B agus O

In every sense of the word today was a weather event.

Am following matters closely in Ireland over the bailout. The bailout that everyone knows is coming, except the Finance Minister and Biffo.  The BBC and the Financial Times were reporting talks as early as Sat night and still the Dail is maintaining a near Masonic silence and secrecy over whether or not they’ve taken place.

Particularly enjoyed the British papers headlines (everyone has the word Ireland emblazoned on front page)

My faves:

EU tells Ireland Take The Bailout. (Judging from my kitchen table it is not in the national characteristic to “do what you’re told” so good luck on that one.)

Ireland on the Brink.  (could apply to any average Thursday.)

Ireland isn’t working: Celtic Tiger becomes sick man of Europe.

While the Irish newspapers still lead with the more tranquil

Taoiseach insists Ireland not applying to Europe for bailout.

To which we can only respond, erm how come the rest of the world do not believe him….

Another curious thing is the papers need to catch up with what’s already taken place. They are running these pieces about young people potentially fleeing the country, but we know from the figures people have already left. I’ve never heard so many Irish accents in the area here as in the past six months and this is not a place historically the Irish gravitate to. There aren’t even good flight routes to get here!

To add to the current inventory of woes, it’s -3 overnight in Dublin.

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Here in the Wessst Coast it’s blowing a gale, the greenhouse splitting at the seams as I type. I’ve already had to do aerial moves to rescue a flying sledge and a turbine fishing net. The clouds are extraordinary and the trees, well they’re doing a fair bit of bee-bop out there.  Over by the supermarket there was a head banging line of conifers

Janey a blustery day in the Motherland.

 

Gusts of up to 120km/h were forecast, however winds could reach up to 140km/h in exposed parts of Connacht and Ulster.

 

 

 

RTE have not uploaded access outside Ireland to the Freefall series. From what I gathered about the first one, it was much avert thy gaze and blithering. Still would like to see it. In the meantime Prime Time have a cheery report on the disaster in the bonds market and ongoing FF scuppering.  Also, I note a return to the new version of the CE scheme where you work 19 hours just for your dole?! As opposed to 20 hours for a third more than your dole.Human Inflation? The talking heads at the dole office were great, pointing out what the govt appears to miss that er, people want to work there’s no jobs for them! thanks to the great blow, swindle and economic toilet flush.

Prime Time investigation into planning failures, excess housing, ghost estates. Jesus…..

RTE’s Frontline programme yesterday led on a discussion among young Irish people on high rates of unemployment they currently face. It was interesting how the discussion split into “roll up your sleeves and buck up” from another generation. It was suggested they were molly coddled with high expectations. What wasn’t acknowledged was that they grew up in a boom time. They also were saddled with the associated expenses of that time, some with extortionate mortgages (and concurrent negative equity) and so on. How will this play out? Will it result in another eighties exodus? (which has already begun) Or will that generation stay put and affect change? Previously the expectation was to have to leave, but this generation didn’t grow up with that, so in essence this is also the first generation who can articulate on the alternative.

I was intrigued by the “we went through it” and “you’ve had it easy” since it could be argued that older generations were trained for exit and send money home. This generation have been trained or conditioned toward success and stay put. There’s a pervasive sense of entitlement (in any other country I think it would be considered average confidence…) that irks the older generation and divides them ever further. It’s interesting that in the same sentences NAMA is not subject to the same short shrift. I s’ppose it’s easier condemn unemployed young folk than those who made a bollix of things, ie. the banks, property developers etc.

There was one feisty fellow at the front who summed things up along the lines of everything being sunk into over inflated real estate and hotels and now what are we left with. It’s not the only place in the world with over inflated property leading a boom — I am curious to see whether the same may play out in Vancouver, where the property bubble has yet to burst.