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

Joe Biden endorses Malarky!

Tonight in the Vice Presidential debate we heard Joe Biden indicate the influence of my novel Malarky on him.
Behind every Vice-President is an episodic novel.

Buy the novel that inspired American politics ….

The Three Rs: Anakana Schofield

Slightly Bookist blogger and literary critic JC Sutcliffe interviewed me for her fun and contemplative Three R’s feature.

Here’s a snip with the link to the full interview questions below.

“I think of literature on a continuum, a line, I want to add to it, to reread, to dart here and there. I can appreciate a book for a single paragraph if I contemplate where that paragraph led from or leads too in another parallel work or where else it might lead me. I am not always reading for the “whole”.”


The Three Rs: Anakana Schofield.

Edmonton Journal: Another big shout out for Malarky

In a column called Let’s Celebrate Great Writing in Saturday’s Edmonton Journal Michael Hingston, the paper’s new book columnist, gave this uplifting and generous shout out to Malarky:

“The annual season of CanLit second-guessing spoke to an urge that’s near and dear to my heart: the urge to make fun of dumb things. But then I started thinking about the best Canadian novel I’ve read this year, Anakana Schofield’s Malarky — and which, if left to some inattentive marketing person, could’ve easily been lost in a pile of books marked drab and introspective. What a mistake that would’ve been.”

Entire column is here.

Interview in Celtic Life International

Celtic Life International, a magazine about which I know virtually nothing, kindly interviewed me recently and the interview is up on their site now. It will appear along with a review of Malarky in the Fall edition of their magazine.

I’ll excerpt two questions from the interview here and you can read the entire thing in a link at the end should you wish.

What was the most challenging aspect of the process?
Finding the right form. My form. Breaking with the conventional forms of linear, chronological or and past/present shifts in narrative. I wanted to write a novel that challenged. I am ambitious for the novel as a reader and I want to contribute to that as a writer. I created a rotating point of view that would give the reader a whole woman and I employed devices such as the use of Our Woman, so the reader would feel some possession over her. I also wanted a singular focus on Philomena that would be unremitting in its attention to one ordinary woman. It was very demanding. In the novel I also address the effect that grief has on time and memory; in order to replicate this it was necessary to a fragmented approach. But the hardest part in some ways was the sadness of her situation. I became very attached to Philomena. I still feel weepy if I think of her at that moment in the shop when she breaks down or even stuck out on the mountain when she falls over. Though that part of the narrative is fairly ripe with humour.

What are your thoughts on Canadian literature today?

We are living in an exciting time for Canadian literature. But we need to be mindful to push the boundaries of the novel and not just settle for the middle-brow.  We also need to pay much more attention as readers to our poetry. Some of the most dynamic work in the country is taking place in poetic forms. Likewise critical writing needs our attention both as writers and readers.

To read the entire Celtic Life piece click here

The Quarterly Conversation review recursive Malarky

Wonderful, interrogative critique of Malarky in lastest edition of The Quarterly Conversation. Thanks to Christiane Craig for going a few rounds and octaves with Malarky.

“Perhaps the most surprising moment of Anakana Schofield’s Malarky: “Our Woman’s brain ached as though fingers were separating it inside her head.” Indeed, Malarky is nothing if not a very difficult, albeit remarkable, little “brain” and to read it is to separate it with fingers. The novel is composed of twenty “episodes,” the muddled recollections of “Our Woman,” an Irish farmer’s wife on the threshold of old age, with two featureless daughters and a very dear gay son, Jimmy, who is her favorite person. ”

Read the entire piece here

Malarky on tour Fall 2012 — part 1

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.


Malarky on Cortes

Thanks a million to everyone who came out last Sunday for the reading event at Mansons. It was so much fun reading outdoors, beside the tree swing to such a warm response.

I especially enjoyed the questions and discussion including Liz Magor’s (Visual Artist) incredible take on my book. I wish I could have transcribed what she said about subjectivity. I was also so happy to see many familiar Cortes and Refuge Cove faces, people whose company I’ve delighted in over the years of making annual summer journeys up to Cortes.

A million and a half thanks to Suzu for organizing the event, Marnie’s Books for selling and stocking Malarky.

Also nice to meet writers Ruth Ozeki and Dennison Smith both of whom have new novels coming out in Spring 2013 which I look forward to reading.

Pics to follow.

Quill & Quire front cover interview is live

This week the cover story interview I did for June’s Quill and Quire became available online.  Thank you to Q&Q for showing such faith in me and to Cheri Hanson for such a thoughtful article. Click on the photo below to read it.


Golden Thursday

Thursday was a fantastic day. Katie Taylor took the Olympic gold medal in Women’s Boxing for Ireland and Seán Bán Breathnach expressed it like no other. Invoking the poets and presidents. Go hiontach ar fad!

The same day I learned I was on P22 of the Irish Echo talking about Malarky — a great day. Very special. I grew up on diaspora newspapers and the Readers Digest. (The Readers Digest in the US also wrote a lovely review of Malarky) Some years ago I traveled to the NYPL to look up the Irish Echo from 1963 specifically to read some community listings in the back of it. Why did I go that far? Because the paper was not available on microfiche or obtainable so if I wanted to see it, I had to go to NY. So it’s lovely to think that things have come the full circle. There’s something very Gertrude Stein about circles. More of them please!

I leave it to SBB.


Toronto Star calls Malarky fascinating, absolutely beautiful

Insightful review and perspective on Malarky from Georgie Binks in today’s Toronto Star. Great to have this reflection on the book as it speaks to the inner monologues of everyday folk. This piece about Malarky also deals with the book that was written, rather than speculating on or demanding the one that wasn’t, which is ditto cheering.

Some clips from the review:

“Malarky is a fascinating voyage into the mind of a woman embattled but surviving during and after the deaths of her husband and son, the latter being the true tragedy from which she must recover. The central character of the book, Philomena a.k.a. “Our Woman,” is kind enough to share the running commentary of her life in an Irish patter that could easily mirror the thoughts of many women at mid-life, if in fact, mid-life these days is when the kids have left and the husband has died or departed.

Schofield admits, “I wrote that book unapologetically for and about women. I find the ordinary working class woman fascinating. I like to write about ordinary people who usually don’t get written about.”

“…”What I love about Malarky is the absolutely beautiful, almost lyrical, but very simple turns of phrase Schofield employs. Little truths like her observations that youth is not wasted on the young but that age is wasted on the old or that widows — first considered a novelty — soon become the remnants of the person who is gone.”

Click here to read the entire Toronto Star review of Anakana Schofield’s novel Malarky

Malarky invited to Wordstock Portland Book Festival

I was delighted to hear the news I have been invited to Wordstock the Portland Book Festival in the Fall. I am excited to visit Portland as I’ve never been.

Thank you indeed to Wordstock for the invitation.

San Francisco Chronicle publishes excellent, insightful review praising Malarky

A piece of criticism is required to be an engaging piece of writing in its own right. Increasingly reviews are devoid of ideas and the frames of reference have become painfully narrow, such engagement is only to be found in the longer form essay or critique. 

The San Francisco Chronicle published a review in their Sunday edition (July 3, 2012) that not only strongly praises Malarky but more importantly considers it and considers it coherently. And even more significantly the review, even within the confines of today’s newspaper word counts, manages to contain ideas.

“Malarky” is very much a book about sexuality and sexual frustration, but it is more fundamentally about the blinkers life puts on a person. Smart and absurdly proactive as Our Woman can be, she remains unable to see certain parts of herself or push through the illusions that her marriage has taught her. Schofield brings in a clearly political element when these illusions pertain to her soldier son, yet, throughout, “Malarky” makes a more subtle critique: failing to see past the margins of one’s understandings invites a failure of the imagination that hurts those you love, or attempt to.

Potent and fresh as this is, “Malarky” becomes truly compelling when Our Woman embodies an existential strangeness. In certain moments, we are not so far from Beckett’s Molloy – Our Woman comes close to enlivening not only the political and the personal but also the human.

Click here to read Scott Esposito’s San Francisco Chronicle review.

Malarky, CBC 10 Writers to Watch and ruminations on the dentist’s chaise

I continue to receive lovely messages and responses from readers about Malarky. Thank you very much for them. The poets have been very good to me as well, sending such strong, generous responses and engaging with my novel. Thank you. It is so heartening to read of this engagement.


Thank you to the CBC who today included me in a list of 10 writers to watch. I did chuckle at the word watch since I am perpetually losing my glasses in what amounts to a very small living space and should certainly be watched for my demonstrated ability not to put the folded laundry away and tendency to topple over in public places.

Another thing that struck me was where are the lists of the writers who have stuck around? I may have to compile one.


My dentist also put a “watch” on two of my teeth recently. I was at the dentist this week and had quite a knee wrapping experience. It was cold in the room, see my post on weather blues. The staff are so kind at my dentist, one woman asked: Would you like a blanket? I told her I’d love a blanket and she took off into a cupboard.

She came back and handed me the identical blanket that I had as a baby in 1971 and I happily wrapped it around myself and settled back for the drilling. I have to say, unrelated, but it was one of my better performances in the dentist’s chair. I am an awful, terrified patient, who is fortunate to have found the most patient dentist on this planet.

“Anaesthetic is our friend” he says quietly, talking me through what amounts to one of the most awful parts of dentistry for me that enormous needle powering into my gum. My dentist is so smart. He’s figured out if he talks and offers words I protest less. He literally could be speaking Russian it wouldn’t matter. My poor brain just needs to hear something to blot out the horrible images it manages to conjure in these situations. Very glad the CBC list of writers to watch does not take place in the dentist’s chair.

Largehearted Boy: Book Notes: a musical walk through Malarky

Here is one of the most unique and rewarding forays I have undertaken with Malarky. Thank you to David John Gutowski @ Largehearted Boy for inviting me to participate in his excellent cross-disciplinary Book Notes series:

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Anakana Schofield’s Malarky is a brilliant debut novel that depicts one woman’s descent into madness with dark humor and an intimate eye for grief and sorrow.

The Montreal Gazette wrote of the book:

“Toeing the delicate line between tragedy and comedy – the former inherent in the bare facts of Our Woman’s life, the latter in her irrepressible voice – Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point and remarkably sustains that level all the way through.”


In her own words, here is Anakana Schofield’s Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, Malarky:

(The playlist has embedded youtube videos of the music )

Profile in today’s National Post

In today’s National Post Books there’s a profile on me: Thank you to Mark Medley who wrote such a lively piece.

Pluck of the Irish: Anakana Schofield’s debut is one of the season’s best reads

When Anakana Schofield was 24 years old, she got braces. A recent theatre school graduate, the aspiring actress coped with a mouthful of metal by picking up a video camera and recording the experience. The resulting half-hour documentary, Bracism, aired on RTE.

“It was like reality TV, way, way before there was actually a thing,” recalls Schofield, now 41, during an interview in a Toronto café last month. “For years afterwards, I’d be in the bank, or I’d be on the train, and somebody would say, ‘I saw your program on the telly! You’re the girl that made the one about the teeth!’

“I’m very interested in documentary,” she continues. “I’m interested in social anthropology as well. Fiction, for me, is [a] departure … I’m interested in making s–t up, basically, and this is the place to do it.”

Malarky, Schofield’s wonderfully deranged debut novel, marries her interests in realism and invention with great results. It tells the story of “Our Woman,” also known as Philomena, an aging farmer’s wife who is slowly coming apart at the seams. The simple life she leads in County Mayo, Ireland, is first threatened then shattered by myriad events: her son’s homosexuality, her husband’s philandering ways, her own sexual awakening, and, eventually, the deaths of both her son and husband.

“From a marketing department’s point of view, this is not a dream book,” she deadpans. Yet, “I have great faith in readers,” she adds. “I’m interested in what the novel can become. We know what it can be — the linear, chronological. As a reader I’m ambitious. And I want to see new things.”

To read the entire profile click here 

Malarky Little Star miracle

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

Malarky: “reminiscent of Under Milk Wood”

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.

Montreal Gazette review Malarky: “one of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years…”

Montreal was very good to Malarky this week. More pan clanging!  Thank you to the Montreal Gazette and Ian McGillis, who had plenty thoughtful warm remarking and framing on Malarky. Some snips below:

“..she’s one of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years, and a new literary standard bearer for the most under-represented of demographics: the working class middle-aged woman.”

“Toeing the delicate line between tragedy and comedy – the former inherent in the bare facts of Our Woman’s life, the latter in her irrepressible voice – Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point and remarkably sustains that level all the way through. The spirit of Joyce’s Molly Bloom hovers around the edges of Malarky, so if you’ve always found the last pages of Ulysses to be the highlight of that difficult masterpiece, you might just find Molly’s modern-day descendant in Our Woman. Others will be reminded of another Irish classic, lately fallen into unjust neglect: Edna O’Brien’s 1960 novel The Country Girls. But here’s one Irish country girl who has grown up and seen and done things O’Brien’s could never have envisioned.”

Read more:

The Rover/Rover Arts review Malarky

I clang pans very loudly in appreciation for the careful reading of Malarky and lovely review by Elise Moser in The Rover (An Independent review of art and culture) out of Montreal.

Here’s an extract:

This is a brilliant book. Finely drawn, deceptively muscular, and pulsing with warm intelligence and wit, it offers a reprieve from despair no less profound for coming very much at the last moment.


Malarky is studded with fabulous sentences. Page after page, the reader is thrilled by vivid turns of phrase like whiffs of ammonia that tunnel up into the brain with a pungent combination of discomfort and unexpected pleasure. Anakana Schofield’s language carries the sharpness of Irish speech; she uses it to reveal the incisive powers of observation with which our heroine carves her perceptions of the ordinary life around her, and excavates the truths – emotional and practical — that the world tries to keep buried.


Read the entire review here.




Tyee Summer Reads list includes Malarky

A dapper mention in The Tyee for Malarky chosen as one of their Summer Reads picks in a fine radical list of books. What a nifty write-up.

A book to read while spending that week at the cottage with your relatives you always thought were a bit, um, off.


Malarky by Anakana Schofield (bibilioasis)


Vancouver author Schofield’s much lauded debut novel employs a bluntly pragmatic first person voice in explicating the gradual psychic unraveling of an Irish middle-aged woman. The language is funny one moment, forensic the next, but just when the book begins to feel a small gem of internal monologue, you realize its about everyone in the world who is driven a little or a lot crazy by their culture’s repressive notions of sexuality, identity and proper behaviour. In other words, read Malarky to either understand how your cottage-sharing relatives got that way, or to see them as not being as screwed up as you thought they were.

Click here to read all the selections (including some good local picks like Davie Street Translations by Daniel Zomparelli)

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