Malarky

Malarky

3.8 14
by Anakana Schofield
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


Advance Praise for Malarky

"Good writing and dark wit always excite me and they come together thrillingly in this book. It has a quiet grip on the strangeness of the interior and exterior worlds of love and politics and their inextricability. I delighted in the writing and the scope - macro and microscopic."—Jenny Diski

"Malarky spins and

Overview


Advance Praise for Malarky

"Good writing and dark wit always excite me and they come together thrillingly in this book. It has a quiet grip on the strangeness of the interior and exterior worlds of love and politics and their inextricability. I delighted in the writing and the scope - macro and microscopic."—Jenny Diski

"Malarky spins and glitters like a coin flipped in the air--now searingly tragic, now blackly funny. The language is joyful and exuberant, the characters thoughtful and deeply felt. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant." —Annabel Lyon

With Malarky, Anakana Schofield has delivered a character as extraordinary as Brecht’s Mother Courage, and a domestic situation that rivals Beckett’s Endgame for its stagnant and sorrowful absurdity.

Our Woman Philomena has just caught her son Jimmy in the barn with another man. She’s been accosted by Red the Twit, who energetically discloses the infidelities—real, imagined, or in any event peculiar—of Our Woman’s husband.

Swamped by a confusion she refuses to let overcome her, Philomena embarks on rural odyssey that skirts madness, passes through grief, and returns her to the remarkable resilience of spirit that will make Our Woman the character of the decade. Schofield’s wicked humour is everywhere apparent, and Malarky, brilliantly drawn in the cadences of contemporary Ireland, is an absolutely peerless tour-de-force.

Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, drama, essays, and literary criticism. She contributes to the London Review of Books, The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, the Globe & Mail, and the Vancouver Sun. She has lived in London and Dublin, and now resides in Vancouver. Malarky is her first novel.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a remarkably different novel. It is laugh out loud funny and sadly real. It is perceptive and revealing. It is raunchy. It is literate with no shades of gray. The protagonist, cleverly named "Our Woman," is sui generis; you will not find her ilk anywhere. Hers is a voice we have not heard before and may not hear again."—About.com

"One of the delights of this novel is the language in which it is written. The tender inflections of everyday Irish speech … seem to break into a jig, dancing to and fro … I found in Malarky a refreshing rejection of the escapist fantasy that dominates much of our cultural life: it is boldly not fifty shades of anything. I admire Schofield's ability to pull off something so difficult with charm and brio."—The Guardian

"Schofield’s portrait of a woman whose personality is beginning to fragment after a lifetime in an emotional vacuum is both blackly comic and deeply felt. There is something heroic about the desperate resilience of Our Woman, and the originality of her depiction by Schofield, that leaves an indelible trace on the reader’s mind."—The Telegraph

"The best writers ... manage to balance comedy and tragedy, to combine the verbal virtuosity and high jinks of the comic vision with intelligent and sensitive insight into people’s lives and hearts. And Anakana Schofield is in the ranks of the best. She weaves her words well and demonstrates many of the gifts that the novelist has to own. This novel is deeper and more thoughtful than it seems. Clever, witty, imaginative and intriguing, Malarky is a stunning debut from an exceptionally good writer."—The Irish Times

"Brilliant … laced with dark wit and quirky lyricism, this is a striking portrait of a society in flux and a woman on the edge."—The Sunday Mail

"The Irish-Canadian author's episodic, deeply idiosyncratic work is not only eminently readable but also an absolute hoot ... told with such chuckle-inducing black humour and deep-seated intelligence it's akin to being button-holed by a fascinating, blithely imprudent stranger."—Metro Herald

"The novel's poignancy is matched by its regular comic brilliance ... Schofield overturns stereotypes partly by embracing them first, toppling traditional domestic imagery in order to fully capture Philomena's internal and external worlds ... Her writing's distinctiveness and comic energy invokes Patrick McCabe as well as Anne Enright's early work."—Sunday Business Post

"Malarky is a bold first novel from an author whose prose hums with electric wit and linguistic daring. 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.”—Stuart Woods, Amazon.ca First Novel Award Judge

"One of the season's best reads."—The National Post

"Quirky, raucous and utterly unconventional."—Reader's Digest

"A miracle ... move over, Molly Bloom."—Ann Kjellberg, Little Star

"This book got a lot of attention on my Twitter feed this year from many women I admire greatly. It’s about Our Woman, an Irish housewife surrounded by people she can’t understand, doing unmentionable things to each other. What is a woman to do? Well, just maybe try some unmentionable things herself."—Laurie Grassi, Chatelaine

"Malarky becomes truly compelling when Our Woman embodies an existential strangeness. In certain moments, we are not so far from Beckett's Molloy - Our Woman comes close to enlivening not only the political and the personal but also the human. Schofield has true promise for this kind of writing, and it is there that I hope she next turns her sizable gifts, in the book that will surely follow this resoundingly successful first novel"—San Francisco Chronicle

"Malarky is a book deeply rooted in the consciousness of a middle-aged Irish farmer’s wife and mother, Philomena, or ‘Our Woman’, who is grieving the loss of both her husband and son. Philomena’s story is remarkable for the way in which it immerses a reader in the extreme disorientation and overpowering sorrow of loss. The narrative is fractured and discursive; it loops and soars and doubles back. But if this sounds overly complicated or esoteric, it isn’t, mostly because Philomena is so brave and flawed and strange a character and her means of dealing with her losses so, well, human. This is a funny, raunchy, moving read, written in beautiful, brave prose."—Heather Birrell, The Next Best Book Blog

"A fascinating voyage into the mind of a woman embattled ... absolutely beautiful."—Toronto Star

"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."—Brian Lynch, The Georgia Straight

"A glorious, breathless romp through the mind of an immensely likeable woman"—Slightly Bookist

"One of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years... 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 Montreal Gazette

"This is a brilliant book. Finely drawn, deceptively muscular, and pulsing with warm intelligence and wit"—The Rover

"Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered."—The Longest Chapter

"Malarky is an exemplary read ... I look forward to the next of Anakana Schofield’s novels."—Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading

"Irish-Canadian literary critic Anakana Schofield's first novel is a tumultuous ride. Malarky asks questions without providing answers, chronicling the emotional, mental, and occasionally menial anxieties of Our Woman as she struggles with her own agency and desire. Set in contemporary Ireland, the book overflows with subtle and sometimes subversive allusions to James Joyce's Ulysses, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, site-specific contemporary Irish art, and Catholic history. Yet Schofield's strong prose style and inventive approach to structure will likely reward readers unfamiliar with these cultural references."—Quill & Quire

"Delightfully offbeat ... Schofield shows a deft - and altogether welcome - comic touch."—The National Post

"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 ... Malarky is an alternately beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic work of literary fiction." —The Winnipeg Free Press

"I loved this book Malarky ... I was gobsmacked."—Sheryl MacKay, CBC Radio, North by Northwest

""Malarky is like nothing else, and what everything should be … This is a book that will leave you demanding more of everything else you read."—Pickle Me This

"Malarky is a wacky, dead serious book, and what stands out more than anything is its freshness in a sea of same-old, same-old novels.“—The Telegraph Journal

"A challenging but rewarding look at what happens to a mother when the bottom drops out."—The Vancouver Sun

"Head and shoulders above many of its peers."—The Georgia Straight

"I loved this book from its opening lines ... Schofield's strong beautiful prose is compelling."—Freefall Magazine

"Mordantly funny ... Malarky, a recent and notable addition to the growing field of mad studies—the exploration of oppressive practices directed against those deemed 'mad'—explores the uses of humour to unveil and counteract that oppression."—Canadian Literature

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781926845388
Publisher:
Biblioasis
Publication date:
04/03/2012
Pages:
225
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

Read an Excerpt


Episode 1.

—There’s no way round it, I’m finding it very hard to be a widow, I told Grief, the counsellor woman, that Tuesday morning.

—Are you missing your husband a great deal?

—Not especially. I miss the routine of his demands it’s true, but am plagued day and night with thoughts I’d rather be without.

—Are you afraid to be in the house alone?

—Indeed I am.

—Are you afraid someone’s going to come in and attack you?

—Indeed I am not.

—And these thoughts, do they come when you are having problems falling asleep?

—No, I said, they are with me from the first sup of tea I take to this very minute, since three days after my husband was taken.

—Tell me about these thoughts?

—You’re sure you want to know?

—I’ve heard it all, she insisted, there is nothing you can say that will surprise me.
I disbelieving, asked again. You’re sure now?

—Absolutely.

—Men, I said. Naked men. At each other all the time, all day long. I can’t get it out of my head.

—Well now, she said and fell silent.

She had to have been asking the Almighty for help, until finally she admitted she could think of no explanation and her recommendation was to scrub the kitchen floor very vigorously and see would a bit of distraction help.

—Pay attention to the floor and mebbe they’ll stop.

I recognized the potential a widow has to frighten people. I had frightened the poor woman something rotten.

The next week I returned.

—I have scrubbed the floor every day and I am still plagued by them.

Grief was silent another good while.

She had to be honest, she’d never come across a woman who’d experienced this. Usually a woman simply missed her husband without this interference.

—Are you turning to your faith?

—Oh God I am.

The two of us would now pray for some guidance because she was at a loss.

—Were they still the same images?

—Worse, I said. Even more of them and at filthy stuff together and now they all seem to be bald regardless of their ages. Did she think the devil might target widows?

—He might, Grief said. He very well might.

—Would it be worth looking into them Nigerian preachers, the black fellas I seen on the telly who can exorcise them from the place?

—It might, she said, it very well might.

*
The girls in my gang asked why wasn’t I going to the grief counselling anymore.

—There’s something awful morbid about her. She’s the sort who’d nearly put you off being alive.

And we all laughed about it, until Joanie said be careful now I think that’s so and so, whose married to so and so’s husband, who’s Patsy’s cousin and we’d never hear the end of it if it was to get back to her.

—It’s awful complicated being a widow, you’ve to be careful what you say, I told them, as I’ll tell you all now. If you are a widow, be careful what you say. I think it’s why they started talking about Jimmy in the bank.

Mebbe I said too much.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"One of the season's best reads."—The National Post

"Quirky, raucous and utterly unconventional."—Reader's Digest

"A miracle ... move over, Molly Bloom."—Ann Kjellberg, Little Star

"This book got a lot of attention on my Twitter feed this year from many women I admire greatly. It’s about Our Woman, an Irish housewife surrounded by people she can’t understand, doing unmentionable things to each other. What is a woman to do? Well, just maybe try some unmentionable things herself."—Laurie Grassi, Chatelaine

"Malarky becomes truly compelling when Our Woman embodies an existential strangeness. In certain moments, we are not so far from Beckett's Molloy - Our Woman comes close to enlivening not only the political and the personal but also the human. Schofield has true promise for this kind of writing, and it is there that I hope she next turns her sizable gifts, in the book that will surely follow this resoundingly successful first novel"—San Francisco Chronicle

"Malarky is a book deeply rooted in the consciousness of a middle-aged Irish farmer’s wife and mother, Philomena, or ‘Our Woman’, who is grieving the loss of both her husband and son. Philomena’s story is remarkable for the way in which it immerses a reader in the extreme disorientation and overpowering sorrow of loss. The narrative is fractured and discursive; it loops and soars and doubles back. But if this sounds overly complicated or esoteric, it isn’t, mostly because Philomena is so brave and flawed and strange a character and her means of dealing with her losses so, well, human. This is a funny, raunchy, moving read, written in beautiful, brave prose."—Heather Birrell, The Next Best Book Blog

"A fascinating voyage into the mind of a woman embattled ... absolutely beautiful."—Toronto Star

"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."—Brian Lynch, The Georgia Straight

"A glorious, breathless romp through the mind of an immensely likeable woman"—Slightly Bookist

"One of the most vivid fictional creations to come along in years... 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 Montreal Gazette

"This is a brilliant book. Finely drawn, deceptively muscular, and pulsing with warm intelligence and wit"—The Rover

"Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered."—The Longest Chapter

"Malarky is an exemplary read ... I look forward to the next of Anakana Schofield’s novels."—Scott Esposito, Conversational Reading

"Irish-Canadian literary critic Anakana Schofield's first novel is a tumultuous ride. Malarky asks questions without providing answers, chronicling the emotional, mental, and occasionally menial anxieties of Our Woman as she struggles with her own agency and desire. Set in contemporary Ireland, the book overflows with subtle and sometimes subversive allusions to James Joyce's Ulysses, Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles, site-specific contemporary Irish art, and Catholic history. Yet Schofield's strong prose style and inventive approach to structure will likely reward readers unfamiliar with these cultural references."—Quill & Quire

"Delightfully offbeat ... Schofield shows a deft - and altogether welcome - comic touch."—The National Post

"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 ... Malarky is an alternately beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic work of literary fiction." —The Winnipeg Free Press

"I loved this book Malarky ... I was gobsmacked."—Sheryl MacKay, CBC Radio, North by Northwest

""Malarky is like nothing else, and what everything should be … This is a book that will leave you demanding more of everything else you read."—Pickle Me This

"Malarky is a wacky, dead serious book, and what stands out more than anything is its freshness in a sea of same-old, same-old novels.“—The Telegraph Journal

"A challenging but rewarding look at what happens to a mother when the bottom drops out."—The Vancouver Sun

"Head and shoulders above many of its peers."—The Georgia Straight

Meet the Author


Anakana Schofield: Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, essays, and literary criticism. She contributes to the London Review of Books, The Recorder: The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, the Globe & Mail, and the Vancouver Sun. She has lived in London and Dublin, and now resides in Vancouver. Malarky is her first novel.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Malarky 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
JaneFrank More than 1 year ago
The central character of Malarky is Phil, Philomena, Mam, our woman and, of course, the first person narrator the elusive I ...all are indeed one woman. I would say even every-woman, but given that this romp of a novel is set in Ireland, I am going to venture out on a limb, and say our woman despite her empty chatter is more than even the sum of all her roles. She seems omnipresent in every scene as she guides us through her landscape. Could 'our woman' be a latter day version of the one the Irish revere 'our lady.' For sure, she.explores virgin territory - goes were no woman has gone before and not only lives to tell the tale but loves to tell the tale What a malarky... as our heroine leads us through folk, farming and fornicating tales with compassion, caring and a cup of tea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anakana Schofield's Malarky is a moving, funny story about an ordinary woman determined to overcome challenges and make the most out of life. Written from a lower working class perspective Schofield's protagonist explores the cards she is dealt, mainly grieving, to understand her lot, grow and accept. Particularly moving, and in some ways universally applicable, are the way this working class wife deals with her husband's affair, this working class mother deals with her son's sexuality, and the compelling exploration of how this working class every woman lives with grief.
AoifeMairead More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordinary book. Very unusual which is why I loved it. Some of the reviewers who have written on here presumbably like straightforward novels that do not challenge or offer anything new. Seriously like, it's not popular fiction and it's a challenging book. We read it in our book club and we loved it because it was such a great engagement and we had a really good discussion and agreed/disagreed. If you like serious, thoughtful, ambitious literature you will love this book. I don't understand the naysayers below. All I can imagine is they are not ambitious and need to be more open minded. Are they prejudice maybe because of the gay character in the book? Don't listen to them. Our bookclub read this book, we have been meeting for years and honestly this is one of BEST books we have ever read. This writer is like a female James Joyce but funnier. This book is totally original. I have never read anything like it!!! Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Malarky is an amazing book. Schofield manages to create colorful characters full of compassion, curiosity, repression, anger and joy. This novel demonstrates the psychological, emotional and sexual complexity of human beings and how certain people manage to live through tragedy, pain and suffering with dignity. I highly recommend it for its quirky sense of humor, interesting narration and poignant story line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The voice of Our Woman, the main character, is the best part about this novel for me. She's tender, funny, compassionate. The way she talks about birth and about her husband's table manners is hysterical and spot-on all at once. I also think that the way she handles her son's homosexuality is very moving, I'd recommend it to any mother who has a gay son--for that matter to any wife with a philandering husband too. Five stars all the way!
riverwalker More than 1 year ago
As one of the reviewers below says, "what is funny about an aging woman going mad", I can only say, having spent the last five years in very close contact with my father, who had dementia, there were many funny moments. And, I don't mean that he was doing something foolish. My dad had a dry wit and a way with words when he was younger and his sense of humour was exactly the same until not long before he died. This author has managed to capture Our woman's sense of humour, which quite honestly is the only thing that helps us through the heartbreaking moments we all face. Schofield's journey through the life and mind of someone as humble and self-effacing as Our woman shows us what goes on under the grey hair of the old country girl is not always what we might think. An amazing first book of what we can only hope will be many
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
haven't read yet I am still waiting on my pre-orders for nook
jakejake More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written, almost bitter-sweet story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crazy Normal People! Some books can't be easily pigeonholed, defy neat descriptions - that's Malarky. I could tell you what it's about, but that's not the point of it really. The point is just to get to know the people, the characters and perhaps recognise them, or even just notice them, and their experiences. If you know Ireland, you'll know Malarky. But equally, if you know aging, pain, loss, unattractiveness, friendship, motherhood, madness and general hilarity, then fear not - it's for you too!! And as a bonus, it will transform your view of the Emerald Isle! You'd need a hard heart not to feel Malarky and if it doesn't make you laugh I'm afraid you're a lost soul. Malarky is for that bit of crazy in all of us and it's for the secret stories and rich lives of the people you pass by every day in the store, on the bus and never give a second glance or thought to. Aren't those the best books? It's for all of us who hold intense conversations in our heads, with ourselves, about next to nothing half the time! A friend bought it for me, perhaps she knows!
AKepsel More than 1 year ago
I found myself confused with this book. From other reviews I was expecting some resemblance to 'Housekeeping' by Marilynne Robinson. An account of life through a normal womans eyes. A life that ventured into hidden desires and accounts of the hidden knowledge mothers are keen to. Instead it was a book about a very confused woman going mad as she aged, with babbling narratives that left you feeling more or less helpless to the car crash you are about to witness. It was written without a sense of purpose leaving me with the opinion that there was no purpose in reading this book. It was a waste of my time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm very confused by the other reviews on this book. We all have our opinions but how is a woman who is slowly losing her mind funny? What is funny about seeing your son perform sexual acts on another boy? How is losing both your son and husband humurous? This book was dark, depressing and confusing. I would not finish it if I had not been the one who selected it for our first book club book. I'm afraid the club may disband after this horrible first book.