Malarky

Malarky

3.8 14
by Anakana Schofield
     
 

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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