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

Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction: Podcasts on Malarky

I make no apology for admitting that when I listened to the Debut-Litzer Prize Judges Podcast and heard Fiction judge Leslie Jamison and Patrick McGinty discussing Malarky, I felt weepy. I think I was weepy with delight or disbelief that such an intelligent, close reading of a book I struggled so long and hard with was possible. (This probably sounds strange since I have been blessed with many excellent considerings, but there’s something unique about it being an extended audio discussion sailing out of your computer and also, it’s because I have felt this passionate about other people’s books.) I wished this for every writer, who was driven as demented as I was trying to write my novel.

Then, ever the cynic I felt like weeping all day long for the fact it would be unlikely to happen again in this lifetime and I might never write another book and how could I find company again like Our Woman. (she was pretty dandy, kept me en pointe) Completely and reliably irrational, but there’s a degree of exhaustion as I continue to struggle or interrogate a footnote novel to Malarky called Martin John, that may or may not see the light of day. Whatever the reason I lay in bed stunned and internally emoting before I carried the computer to my son’s room and said I can’t believe this podcast that includes my book to which he replied “look at this app” and showed me his phone. We deflected to teenage business instead, quite rightly and I got a grip.

Anyway here is the podcast you will be guaranteed not to weep at, but can hear discussions of all three books as there were three prize categories that included one for poetry won by Natalie Diaz When My Brother Was An Aztec and non-fiction Benjamin Busch’s Dust to Dust.

Here also is the podcast interview that Late Night Library did with each of us.    Thank you to Patrick McGuity for the ace natter and for telling me about those writers he mentions. I love the ethos behind Late Night Library, an organization well worth supporting.

I think my heightened emotion was also due in part to the formidable news my mother won BEEKEEPER OF THE YEAR in her beekeeping group in Westport, Co Mayo. Here are some fantastic photographs that capture the moment.   She is very passionate about bees and has been studying them and keeping them. It was especially great to hear this news because I recently did an event in Ottawa with Diana Beresford-Kroeger which included remarks on colony collapse and bee and tree calamity. Thus I could imagine Diana beaming at such. We need the bees!

RTE Radio One the Sean O’Rourke show had a feature on Christmas Book Picks and Malarky was one of Sinead Gleeson’s picks. Thank you to Sinead for this. The segment was on a show that included a weather story. The show also starts at 10am. Sean O’Rourke is a voice I associate with 1pm because 15 years ago he used to read the news at one I am nearly sure. I like this collusion of 10am and 1pm, of weather and literature.

Click here to listen

Hot Press, Anne Sexton

You know you’re far from Maeve Binchy when a book opens with an Irish mammy telling her grief therapist that she is plagued by visions of homosexual orgies. Anakana Schofield’s Malarky is a wonderful, inventive darkly comic novel about a woman on the edge. Written as twenty feverish episodes, Malarky is the story of  ‘Our Woman’, a farmer’s wife from Mayo. Her husband is three days dead when the novel opens and Our Woman confesses these intrusive thoughts to her counsellor, who recommends scrubbing the floor vigorously for distraction. Before his untimely demise Himself may have had a fancy woman in Ballina and her son has certainly being getting up to no good with a neighbour’s boy, so Our Woman sets out to learn more about these sexual shenanigans herself. Malarky is written in gorgeous technicolour prose and is in turns laugh out loud funny and deeply moving. Highly recommended.


Anne Sexton (August, 2013) Hot Press, Ireland.

Our Woman gets fresh with Mr Penumbra

Malarky Waterstones


A reader sent me this happy snap of Our Woman canoodling or getting fresh beside Mr Penumbra there in the New Books section of Waterstones Bookshop in the UK. Have you spotted Our Woman snuggling up in any bookshops?

Malarky gets her first mash note

The email server bought a warm message about Malarky today.

I received my first mash note, since I didn’t know what a mash note was (*) it is designated my first mash note … it was from Mr. Lemony Snicket or the fella who holds a cup of tea and writes as him. He wrote to say he thinks Malarky is terrific, which was very kind of him. As I read the message the weather outside was bright blue. It was not raining. (important to note the weather upon receipt of first mash note)

I had to ask him what a mash note was because I thought perhaps it was something to do with the TV show MASH or potato mashers. By reply, he generously explained a mash note is an effusive fan letter.

Thank you Mr Lemony Snicket. It was like getting a message from Mr Bump. (I am a big fan of Mr Bump) and up there beside getting tweeted by my favourite weather forecaster Johanna and my favourite bird flu expert Crawford Killian.

Also, Radio-Canada came calling, there will be some talk of Malarky on one of their programmes next week by a man named Charles. Do you hear that French publishers? Do you hear that Quebec publishers? French readers want to read Malarky too. So roll up, roll up and translate her. Enough of this risk averse carry on. Nom d’un chien, zut alors, for the love of God.

I’ve decided Cesar Aira is the only man to translate the book into Spanish. So give us a ring Cesar…hopefully not at the same time as Mr Bump. Wouldn’t want to miss either of you.

It’s going to rain on Saturday, if you are wondering.

From Saturday’s Irish Times

The sun shone in Dublin and Vancouver on Saturday weather-wise my sources confirm. I was actually in Victoria this weekend attending the BC Book Prize Gala. (Report coming) Here is a screen grab from Saturday’s Irish Times.
Irish Times Malarky mention.

Merci Montreal

Some very generous words for Malarky in Saturday’s Montreal Gazette from Ian McGillis. Molto Merci Montreal for this warm sentiment. I hope some day to descend upon your transit system and do a reading with your people. So invite me! This is not a busking suggestion! Writers can’t busk — what’s up with that? Perhaps they can.

“Glasses were raised among fiction lovers nationwide last week when Anakana Schofield’s sui generis debut Malarky was named winner of the First Novel Award. All temptation to say “I told you so” based on a rave review last summer and a year-end 10-best selection in a certain Montreal newspaper will be firmly resisted. The choice represents a triumph for both adventurous writing —Malarky’s Our Woman is about as unlike a standard Canadian fiction heroine as you could get—and for small literary publishers: Biblioasis has established itself with remarkable speed as a house of unerringly high standards. Congratulations all around.”

Here’s the link to the entire column including an uplifting tale about the gift of 9,115 books and an opportunity to discover what wrtier Elise Moser has been reading. First Novel Award citation and Malarky on Canada AM

Here is the citation for the First Novel Award which I won on Wednesday for Malarky.

“Malarky is a bold first novel from an author whose prose hums with electric wit and linguistic daring,” Stuart Woods, editor of Quill & Quire and head judge for the 37th First Novel Award said in a statement. “The novel traverses darkly comic territory with intelligence and poise, relating the story of an unnamed narrator whose resilience in the face of life’s disappointments will stay with readers long after the verbal pyrotechnics have dissipated. Anakana Schofield is a true original, and her novel is a delight.”

And here is the link to my very pink looking appearance on CTV’s CANADA AM programme.

Malarky nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize!

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.

Schofield, Gaston highlight B.C. Book Prize nominees

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.


Woo-hoo! Malarky nominated for First Novel Award

Hot off boiling the kettle here …Malarky has been nominated for the First Novel Award. This just in from the Toronto Star report

“ announced the finalists for the 37th Annual First Novel Award Wednesday. This Canadian literary award recognizes the outstanding talent of Canadian novelists who have published their first novel in 2012.”

Click here to learn about all 5 titles nominated including the intriguing People Park by Pasha Malla.

Click here to read the offical news release put out by Amazon at the rising of the sun.

From a Malarky reader yesterday

I have been meaning to share some of the messages i receive from readers: the image of people discussing anything for hours is always boldly up lifting. This was most cheering to read. Thank you dear reader(s)

“My book club finally got around to reading Malarky and I must say we all loved it – what a wild ride! We talked about it for hours which doesn’t often happen when we get together – we forwent our usual gossip session to talk about your wonderful book. Our Woman was a delightful character and we all loved your dialogue and gift with language. Rarely has a book made me laugh so hard and feel so heartsick at the same time. Two of the group read it twice and recommended we all do the same. We can’t wait for the next one.”

Hot! Hot! Hot! Crew, shoe and Malarky

Possibly by far the hottest place to cover Malarky is Crew Magazine. Crew is a gay magazine for everyone. Sometimes their chesty males flash up in my Facebook feed, along with very fine furniture and the current homepage features some rather ravishing shoes.

I just learned of a piece they generously wrote about Malarky in November of all months. When we were all feeling especially chesty because of that grim weather.

Thank you to Bruce Michael for placing Our Woman right where she belongs between the specimans and the furniture.

Read the piece by clicking the quote here (not entirely sure where I was heading with the chillies…): “Thinking back, she’s eroticizing what she witnesses in a way,” Schofield adds. “It awakens something within her. It’s a bit like foreign food. You either don’t like it or you stuff your mouth with hot chilies or whatever.”

Or click here to see the ravishing shoe if you prefer.

You can hunt for the chesties on your steam.


Salty Ink Dazzling Debuts includes Malarky

On December 20, Salty Ink, a Newfoundland based literary blog, announced its list of Most Dazzling Debuts 2012 and Malarky was among them.

See the full list here

On January 20, 2013, the same Salty Ink posted it’s (Probably) The Best Novels of 2012 list and Malarky was included again.

Thank you to Salty Ink for this double listing and for bringing Malarky to the attention of readers in Atlantic Canada.

Although I remain slightly underwhelmed by the much lauded by my Atlantic Canadian friends “King Cole tea” — I would very much love to read in Atlantic Canada, as I am most keen to visit the other side of Canada and discover lobster. I am quite an expert in the weather forecasts for those regions. They have some serious storm action going on in them there parts!

Newfoundland yahoy!



Malarky on Montreal Gazette’s Top Shelf

“Anakana Schofield’s Malarky (Biblioasis, 225 pages, $19.95) introduced an indelible heroine into our national literature, no less so for the fact that she’s Irish. Inhabiting the sometimes confused but always indomitable mind of the grieving and randy Dublin housewife Our Woman, Schofield has created a note-perfect literary joyride, a “voice novel” in the best sense. An unaccountable collective oversight saw Malarky left off all the major prize short lists, but Amazon and other Internet indicators show that Irish-Canadian Schofield is finding readers regardless, and that’s as heartening a story as 2012 has provided.”

Thank you to Ian McGillis of the Montreal Gazette for including Malarky in his year of reading list. I am delighted that my novel is included in our national literature here. I hope she’ll be taught as Canadian Literature and World Literature and Irish Literature. I owe a great deal to this country and Vancouver, the community where I live and its many kind people who have encouraged and inspired me, especially during difficult times. Malarky was Made In Canada. I hope to contribute more to our literature, as I am keen to write into, out of and in response to the where I live. On va voir!
To discover the other books and read Rewind 2012: No shortage of top-shelf titles click here

Toronto Star The Best Reading of 2012 includes Malarky

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).

Read the entire list here.


Malarky selected as Chatelaine: Top Five Books Picks of 2012

There’s something rather post-Blanchot about this one I quite enjoyed. Blanchot maintained (correct me if I am wrong) that the writers intention should not be considered, nor the readers response, but the text alone. Hence this one leans toward a pre-digestion of the text! The conjuring of an appetite. Thanks to Laurie Grassi for this nod. I am glad to know thinking women on Twitter are thinking about Our Woman.

“Everybody’s come up with a list of their fave books of 2012, but I thought I’d try something a little different: My picks of my top unread books of 2012.”

Click here to discover the other 4 books along with Malarky, (including Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat and Other Stories.)

Malarky chosen by Apple iTunes, iBookstore BEST OF 2012 Fiction

Thanks a million to the (Apple) iBookstore who selected Malarky as one of their 10 BEST OF 2012 FICTION titles.

iBookstore described its chosen 10 titles as “spectacular books” which sent rather a bounce of reverb between my kettle and toaster!

Among the 10 titles selected were writers I personally admire such as the brave Tamara Faith Berger’s Maidenhead (I read with Tamara at Incite at VPL which was delightful), Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her. (I was actually due to read with Junot in Toronto but there was a double booking with another festival, hopefully we’ll have another chance to read together in this lifetime) and Ben Stephenson (who if I am not mistaken contributed flash fiction to the same Boulderpavement issue I did in May, along with Stuart Ross.)

I also thank and commend the iBookstore Canada for their strong support of Canadian Independent Publishers. I am a fan of ibooks as an interface and enjoy swiping my way through novels.

Edmonton Journal: Malarky selected for Five Favourite Reads of 2012

How lovely indeed to see Malarky selected as one of Five Favourite Reads of 2012 by the Edmonton Journal Book Columnist Michael Hingston alongside Cesar Aira’s Varamo / The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira (New Directions) and Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies.

I recently alighted on Aira’s work and have delighted in him. I appeared on a panel with Leanne Shapton at IFOA and admire the interdisciplinary approach in her work. Swimming Studies took me back to the swimming pool. Sadly disasters abounded upon my return so I shall stick to vicarious swimming through reading that memoir and keep my feet dry until I can afford some serious swimming instruction. (Again! I must have taken the most swimming lessons in history and made so little progress I’d have to wonder if there’s in a swimming gene I lack). I also really hope that 2013 or even 2014 will result in a reading in Edmonton. Never has a writer been keener than I to visit the home of the former Toonerville Trolley. (Not even sure many writers even know of the one time existence of this historical transport system) I have studied the weather in Edmonton and now own a parka for this impending visit.

Here’s some snips from the article (full piece click here)

2. Anakana Schofield, Malarky (Biblioasis) “an obsessive, voice-driven novel about a grieving Irish housewife that runs along irregular timelines and lingers at unusual places. It also never, ever apologizes for itself. More importantly, it all works….”

3. Leanne Shapton, Swimming Studies (Blue Rider Press)

“Midway through this gorgeous, buoyant hybrid of a memoir, Shapton inserts a 26-part photo series documenting, with captions, every swimsuit she owns…”

5. César Aira, Varamo / The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira (New Directions)

“…Aira’s fiction is an ongoing, off-the-cuff record of his magpie imagination…Read Aira in the morning and you won’t need coffee.”

Georgia Straight: Malarky selected as a best book of 2012

This week’s Georgia Straight contained some pretty wild and cheery news.

In the Georgia Straight Best Books of 2012 round up an extraordinary occurrence (by my standards anyway) three different critics chose Malarky as one of their picks in the same article!

Thank you to Brian Lynch, Michael Hingston and Alexander Varty for the thoughtful reflections on Malarky. Much appreciated.

Was also glad to be beside Karolina Waclawiak‘s novel How to Get Into the Twin Palms published by the dynamic Two Dollar Radio and Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies, which has to be a serious contribution to what Lidia Yuknavitch (another swimmer: see her Chronology of Water) termed “a literature of the body” during our panel discussion at Wordstock — The Portland Writers Festival.

Read the whole article here

Here are the three extracts:

(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
In her debut novel, the Vancouver-based writer rolls out a fully realized marvel of a character, one who seems like she’s been there all along, waiting to be written into story form. Our Woman, as she’s named here, belongs to the settled ways of the Irish countryside—until her world is capsized by the hidden sexual lives of her husband and her son. Schofield has fashioned a truly memorable figure, clear as day from the opening pages of this raw, sad, funny book, and yet consistently surprising. (Brian Lynch)

(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
Great fiction takes risks. That’s why descriptions of a classic and an utter fiasco can sound so similar. And yes, in theory, the debut novel by Vancouver’s Anakana Schofield is far from a sure thing: it’s an obsessive, voice-driven novel about a grieving Irish housewife that runs along irregular timelines and lingers at unusual places. It also never, ever apologizes for itself. More importantly, it all works. Joe Biden may have done more to repopularize the word malarky this year, but Schofield’s electrifying novel will leave a much longer impression.  (Michael Hingston)

(By Anakana Schofield. Biblioasis)
I laughed, I cried, and I’m not kidding. The immensely gifted Anakana Schofield’s vivid study of a middle-aged Irish housewife’s nervous breakdown has a huge heart and a fierce brain; Malarky is, by a wide margin, the most memorable fiction I’ve read this year. Our Woman invents some dubious remedies for her diabetes, not to mention her sense of shame and loss over her husband’s philandering and subsequent death; nine out of 10 doctors would not prescribe fruitcake and sex with strangers. But sometimes cures can take curious form, in life as in this extremely delicious novel. (Alexander Varty)

National Post: Overlooked Canadian favourites 2012


Dear friends,

Here is a blast of warming for you all during these darker winter days.  Today we have a wind warning for overnight, but the world is quite still and almost a tad pulpy looking out there. Wherever you are I hope you enjoy this collaboration. I especially appreciated the hilly twinkles in the piece Pendulum. On an off beat note, I did wonder how the Mr Fain fiddler manages to play all those notes in such a restrictive jacket and how he doesn’t overheat. I wrote many parts of my novel Malarky listening to Metamorphosis 4 on repeat. I wonder if you can hear it under the prose.

I send you all my best Winter warmth and gratitude for your warm support throughout the year for Malarky. AK.

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