Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

National Post: Overlooked Canadian favourites 2012

Direction & NW review in National Post

Saturday gone I reviewed Zadie Smith’s new novel NW in the National Post.

You can read my review here. I have plenty more to say on this book, but the review is a start.

I noticed in Adam Mars-Jones Observer review of NW how he reads the novel backwards out from, against and back to the modernists. Whilst he offers other insights early in his review worth heeding and considering this reading the book backwards seems odd to me. Why didn’t he consider what the book might be writing toward? What and where it might be writing into? I really do not understand reviewers who apply such rigid reasonings to literature. I am all for examining the continuum, but one doesn’t have to chronically only look over the shoulder you can also look left and right, step off the kerb and sail through the present traffic lights .. unanchored.

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.”
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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 

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.

Guest Editor National Post Afterword: Feeling Tired

All this week I have been guest editing Afterword the National Post book blog.

My first piece published on Monday was titled Feeling Tired: (click on the extract to read the entire piece)

When I re-read my novel Malarky I see that for all the sex and sadness in it, it really is a personal plea to be better at baking and to feel less tired.

The main character in Malarky — “Our Woman” — does not feel as tired as I do. She is a great deal perkier. If I try to think of a novel with a character as tired as I feel, I draw a blank. The best I can come up with is Laura Hillenbrand’s incredible New Yorker essay depicting her life with chronic fatigue.

Tiredness is a strange old mist. So is sleep deprivation. Even more puzzling is insomnia, given it strikes when you are, well, already tired.

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.”