Vancouver Book Club Summer Selection: An evening with Anakana Schofield

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Each season, the literary arm of Vancouver is Awesome presents a new book club selection. This past Thursday we spent the evening with local writer Anakana Schofield, author of Malarky.

Anakana filled up the room with her Irish-Canadian charm and she arrived at the event in great spirits: Ireland’s Katie Taylor had just won gold in the Olympics for women’s boxing. Despite her Irish pride, Anakana’s love for Vancouver is clear: “I really want my next book to be a Vancouver book,” she told the group more than once.

Photos by Erica Mattson

In the Q&A with the group, Anakana described the episodic nature of Malarky. “It seems a more honest replication of ordinary lives,” she said, and answered with an emphatic “yes!” when asked if she would continue to explore this non-linear form: “It took me so long to find that form. I just want to push it further and further.”

Anakana read three excerpts from Malarky and throughout the evening the central character – Our Woman – was much discussed. Anakana described how Our Woman first appeared in short story form and how she drew inspiration from D.H. Lawrence: “In Women in Love he took things that were so disparate and put them together. I so admired that.”

The group talked about Our Woman and her response to grief – how she stood up and fought against it, and how people in Vancouver or Ireland, where Malarky is set, might respond differently to those dealing with grief and loss.

“The starting point for the book was grief,” Anakana said. “I felt I had something to say about it.”

Much laughter came about with readings and discussions that highlighted the theme of sexuality in Malarky, and Anakana offered insight why this is such an important part of the book. “It would have been easier to write around it, but the novel demanded it,” she said.

In addition to the book’s critical acclaim, Anakana shared other “happy Malarky moments.” For example, when she finished writing Malarky, which was 10 years in the making, Anakana promised her mother a gift:

“I told her if I sold this book that I would buy her a new bathroom window,” she said. “It was the best thing I ever did.”

This anecdote set off a series of questions like “What did your mother think of it?”

A pleased mother is not the first thing that springs to mind when you read Malarky, so it was wonderful to hear that “she was deeply appreciative of it.” Anakana said, “It turns out she has a great spirit of literary adventure.”

The evening ended with a spirited discussion about Vancouver’s literary and artistic history, and much appreciation for Malarky as an excellent contribution to our city’s book scene.

If you haven’t read Malarky yet, you don’t want to miss it. Find a copy and tuck yourself under a shady tree before summer is through.

Many thanks to Anakana Schofield for participating in the Vancouver Book Club, and special thanks to Biblioasis and to the Prophouse Café for hosting the event.

Our Vancouver Book Club fall selection will be announced soon – stay tuned! You can also join our mailing list.