Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Flare Magazine select Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks

Thank you so much to Flare Magazine who selected Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks.

You’ll note they selected it alongside 50 Shades of Six Million Copies. I am fairly confident that my dubious sex in Malarky is far more satisfying for women readers and I welcome all 6 Million of them to read Malarky as soon as possible and then dispute this assertion in the comments section below. I shall happily atone once the millions report back.



On the road with Malarky: Malarky roadie

I have been away on the road with Malarky, so apologies for the interrupted weather forecasts and meanderings. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Bolen Books in Victoria, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and Village Books in Bellingham.

The highlight for me was at the Seattle launch when 10-yr-old Willie Bays, on his flute, played traditional Irish music (trad) with his mother Susan on fiddle. A mighty player and together they played a mighty set. Go raibh mile to them both.

Also, am enormously grateful for the enthusiasm and warmth of booksellers Robert, Casey and Claire (in store order respectively). Most impressed with the woodwork in many of these shops and the array of jigsaw puzzles that surrounded the reading area at Bolen Books. (including one of a teapot)


What about the weather event at Union Station in Toronto yesterday? A bathtub rainfall event! We were grim on this coast around the same time, but I had to shift my overcast sulking when I saw what had been dealt to the floor at Union. A spot I stood but two weeks ago and imagined doing a cozy waltz around (if I could manage such a thing).


In gardening news I am a disgrace. Officially flagged a green one. Some mysterious objecter has plunged a bamboo pole into my plot with green masking tape on it to alert … I am not sure whom. Not the Mason Bees who were happily mining in my strawberry patch today. Thank you to the gardeners who offered help for my beleagured plot and added soil to it in my absence.

The Flowerman has the most magnificent Pink Poppies. They have to be capitalized they are such stunners. He also generously added some manure to my plot and consequently the purple geranium has gone nuclear in size and I think has made for happy bees.


Profuse thanks to all who have read/are reading Malarky and have tweeted or written about it. Lovely to hear of this happening. A book is nothing without readers. I have great faith in readers and it grows deeper by the day.

Quill & Quire June 2012

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.

Anakana Schofield: Sledging Sentences

Today over at the Afterword (National Post Book Blog) is my final post as Guest Editor. Click on the extract below to read the whole piece.

I have recently commenced learning to play sledge hockey and am curious to see whether this additional sport in my sporting arsenal will influence my prose.

Several writers come to mind for whom sport plays or played a significant part in their lives: Angie Abdou about to run from Montreal to New York, Michael Collins and his arctic marathon running, Haruki Murakami and what he knows about running, Albert Camus and his goalkeeping, George Bowering and baseball, Helen Potrebenko and her gold medal win at the Senior Games for softball, Lori Emerson e-lit expert and competitive amateur cyclist. (Expand this list by all means in the comments section.)

My other weekly sporting indulgence is adult gymnastics (I should admit to a stagnant level of progress over the past two years and a great deal of chatting). I had not practised gymnastics for 25 years when I recommenced the sport on a Wednesday night several years ago. But as a child it was the single most important thing I did.

I returned to it because I considered that within it lay the foundations of my beginnings as a writer. The repetition, the lines, the discipline, the pain and despair. I think I returned because I couldn’t find that same satisfaction in any other form of exercise and was equally frustrated and dwindling on the page.

Malarky interview on CBC North by North West

I was recently interviewed most thoughtfully by Sheryl Mackay on her CBC radio show North by North West, the extended interview is now available for online listening and can be found by clicking below: | North by Northwest | Author Anakana Schofield – “Malarky”.

The Longest Chapter: A stunning engagement with Malarky

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.

Raving: Georgia Straight reviews Malarky

Glad to read this close reading of Malarky by Michael Hingston in the Georgia Straight today. What I appreciate especially about this review is how the reviewer tuned into that latter third of Malarky. An astute read on the book indeed. I also like how the review commences in that third, refusing to chronicle in sequence, a piece that refuses to deliver in a chronological sequence.  (Review that responds to form? or reviews out from the book? )

I also enjoyed the headline:

Click on the extract to read in its entirety.

Anakana Schofield masters madness in Malarky



“Madness is one of fiction’s most enduring subjects, but it requires some finesse in order to be done justice. You can’t just push a character off the cliff of mental health and then catch up with them at the bottom. That’s cheap, and uninteresting besides. The real challenge is to document what happens to that person, second by second, on their way down—because no two falls are exactly the same.

This helps explain why Malarky, the debut novel from Anakana Schofield, an Irish-Canadian author and critic who calls Vancouver home, stands head and shoulders above many of its peers. And she’s got competition: in 2012 alone we’ve seen Ross Raisin’s Waterline, about the rapid self-destruction of a middle-aged Glaswegian widower, and Amelia Gray’s Threats, a chilling, stylized exercise in mood and faulty memory. Both of these books are very good, but Schofield’s is better.”



Winnipeg Free Press: Malarky is beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic

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

Lovely review in National Post for Malarky

Very positive review in tomorrow’s National Post for Malarky: I was glad to see the words Castlebar and hiccups in a book review finally. I hope the Castlebar Library in Co Mayo will be stocking a copy of Malarky.

“Being plagued by hiccups while incarcerated at the psych ward of Castlebar hospital in northwest Ireland is just one of the many troubles of Phil (a.k.a. Philomena, Our Woman, and Kathleen), the distraught woman-on-the-verge at the centre of Malarky, a delightfully offbeat debut novel by Vancouver’s Anakana Schofield.

“Facing betrayal and bursts of chaotic libido from husband and child alike, Our Woman, by turns livid, raging, helpless, frustrated and confused (“confused being the polite local term for possessed”), seeks vengeance against an indifferent, philandering husband. Deciding she “wants to consume rather than be consumed,” Our Woman opts for some carnal adventuring of her own and — surprisingly — close mimicry of her son’s fevered explorations.”

Vancouver Sun reviews Malarky

Two very positive reviews for Malarky on this raining good reviews Friday:

The first in tomorrow’s Vancouver Sun (complete with garages and mad Dr Who woman-in-pipe pictures)

Malarky does a great job revealing emotional distress in straightforward (and graphic) language while using shifting time frames and narrators to develop the enormous complexity of grief, memory and mental collapse.  The novel is a challenging read, but for all the right reasons.

(Click on text above to read entire review)

Les Bazso/PNG

VANCOUVER, BC: APRIL 27, 2012 - - Anakana Schofield, author of a novel called Malarky in Vancouver on Thursday, April 27, 2012.      (Les Bazso,PostMedia)      (see Tracy Sherlock  story)

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!

Nifty plugs for Malarky I

Malarky has received a nifty plug/review at this Something Daily blog: (click on the text for the complete review)


The end result is one of the most memorable voices in recent years in CanLit, and a very distinctive book. Schofield spent ten years crafting this character, and it’s evident she has. “Our Woman,” as she’s called in most of the book, feels perfectly rendered and we root for her with an uncommon compassion. She accomplishes this largely through the use of an atypical narrative structure.

“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!


Scott Esposito has written a thoughtful, interrogative review of Malarky on his blog Conversational Reading.

I really appreciate this review because it is, as reviews should be, an engaging piece of writing in its own right. (Of course I might quarrel with his notion on ethos, preferring McGahern’s idea that the particular is the way to the general but that’s for another blog.) I was fascinated by his analysis of the prose and will give thought to his questions. Click on the quote below to read the entire review.

In terms of structure and voice, Malarky is an exemplary read, showing itself to be far ahead of most debut novels.


Thanks to Scott Esposito and Marcus Pactor for reading and writing these considerations of my work. Much appreciated.


Some thoughtful and interrogative reviews/ blogs have been posted about Malarky.

Marcus Pactor wrote a mid-book review, which is a curious concept that I might join him in writing sometime. I like the continuum that a mid-book review gives to the act of reading. It establishes that it’s ongoing.

Some extracts from Pactor’s blog

“The personal becomes political” is  worn, too.   Schofield turns it around so that the political becomes personal.   We’re very much in the post-9/11 world, but Our Woman’s mostly absorbed by her own life.  She’s interested in Afghanistan mostly because that’s where her homosexual son Jimmy took off to.  She’s interested in Syria because that’s where her latest lover’s from.  When she and her husband watch the news and see riots on the West Bank, she comments: “’Well whether they’re nutters or not,’ I said, ‘they’re lovely looking people.  Look at the great faces on those young men, see the elasticity in their skin and the beards make them look wise when they’re all but twenty.’”  This personalization is not a reduction.  New meanings and understandings of human value are assigned.  They have little to do with neocons and their useless counterparts.

Sentence-wise, she’s also  excellent.  You can hear the Irish voice articulating lovely, inventive metaphors. “One of her fleeting Ballyhaunis Bacon moments has just scraped by her, when the pork of her husband’s action clouts her forcefully out of nowhere and she finds brief comfort in the thought of him, entering the factory to have his flesh separated from his bones for betraying her the way he has.”

Read the entire post here

Launch report

Thanks a million to everyone who came out yesterday and packed the People’s Co-op bookshop for the launch of my novel Malarky. I have been so touched by the warm response to my book by so many. Thank you all again.

Thanks especially to Grandma Suzu and Toni who made such beautiful food and very decent tea in lovely china cups and saucers no less. Our friends Scot and Leanne added Jameson’s to the shot glasses and coffee. The place was hopping.

Lovely music played by my son on the fiddle, Miss Otis Regrets sung richly by Lori Weidenhammer making her debut on Ukelele and the later hour duets with Cameron Wilson, esteemed violinist and composer and my son Cuan who played a rendition of Tom Anderson’s lament Da Slockit Light, Devils Dream and The Fishers Rant.

The People’s Co-op is a lovely spot for a book launch and a lovely spot to sell out of every book we had. We sold 51 books and could have sold another 10! It was a lively day on the Drive, a festival and protest was taking place down the street and the sun was out for us all.


Saturday, the day before yesterday’s launch, I participated in the New Star Firebombing Benefit at the Western Front. It was again a super event: 15 readers and a hub of determined good will. I loved reading in a group that had George Stanley reading a poem called The Vacuum Cleaner in it. Fred Wah also read some intriguing stuff from his early 70’s poetry collection Tree, which i am now keen to read. To be honest the cross section of writers and audience reminded me of descriptions I’ve read or heard or perhaps imagined took place in Vancouver in the 1970’s or perhaps a bit earlier. As I read it struck me how influenced my novel Malarky is by what I have been exposed to here in literature and poetry and by the many writers who have supported me here.  It was a reading which made me feel very much at home here. Maybe because of the collective and determined manner in which people had come together. Much of the material that was read also resonated with this.

Reading the car park hours

Thanks so much to everyone who came out to VPL last night for the Incite reading. It was a great, lively night and I loved reading with Tamara Faith Berger and Ben Wood. I am just about to crack Tamara’s book Maidenhead. I hugely admired Tamara’s reading. We had a great exchange about writing and thinking and so on. Ben also told me fun tales about when he was a singer/songwriter.  One thing he said that stayed with me was a description of trying to persuade someone you really know will like a particular album to listen to it and the resistance therein. Great stories into the small hours. I managed to get my car locked in the car park which in turn became another story. Thank you to the very kind nightwatchman who helped me.

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