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.
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?
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.
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.
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 Amazon.ca 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.
Here is the citation for the Amazon.ca 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.
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.
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.
Hot off boiling the kettle here …Malarky has been nominated for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award. This just in from the Toronto Star report
“Amazon.ca 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.
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.”
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.
On December 20, Salty Ink, a Newfoundland based literary blog, announced its list of Most Dazzling Debuts 2012 and Malarky was among them.
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!
“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.”
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).
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.)
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.
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.”
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.
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)
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.
I have been on the road with Malarky on and off since Sept. 23 when I began at the Brooklyn Book Festival followed by Ontario (Trent, Peterborough), THIN AIR Winnipeg International Writers Festival, Victoria Writers Festival, Wordstock Portland Writers Festival, Vancouver Writers Fest and I am just returned from the marvellous experience that is IFOA in Toronto.
Thank you to all those festivals who invited me, to the audiences and many readers I met, writers I read with and the staff and volunteers who work so hard at these festivals and my publisher Biblioasis for their stellar efforts on behalf of Malarky. I also thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Writers Union and the BC Arts Council for support.
Obviously I have been greviously remiss with my weather reports and must take a big inhale and apologize for this. It is not that I haven’t been observing for I have, just have not quite managed to nail it onto the screen.
Yesterday’s weather events in New Jersey and New York give great pause. The ferocity. The build and how the weather pattern increased its speed on approach, thus making the predication even more challenging. One of the descriptions that has stayed with me from relatives in the middle of it was of the windows bending. The windows being bent (inwards I assume) from the power of the wind. And how fire and water co-existed throughout. Houses on fire in the Rockaways that were surrounded by water on all sides was another description I caught.
I send good thoughts and courage to those involved in recovery efforts and getting the lights turned back on. I am always impressed by the spirit of New Yorkers and was doubly impressed by noting friends who woke this morning there and immediately turned their thoughts and attention to how they might join volunteer efforts today in that city.
Over the next weeks I will catch up on some postings and thoughts about my experience on the road.
Stay warm and safe and thank you again.