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. ”
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.”
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.
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)
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
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.”
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)
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 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.