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Giller Prize 2015

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Martin John
By (author): Anakana Schofield
9781771960342 Paperback, Trade English FICTION / General Sep 15, 2015
$19.95 CAD
Active 5.3 x 8.2 x 0.8 in | 340 gr 282 pages Biblioasis

Finalist for the 2015 Giller Prize

Among The National Post’s Top 5 Books of 2015

Among The Toronto Star’s Top 5 Fiction Books of 2015

Among Largehearted Boy’s Favourite Novels of 2015

One of Quill & Quire’s Books of the Year, 2015

Among The Edmonton Journal’s Top 5 Books of 2015

A 49th Shelf Book of the Year, 2015

Among NOW Toronto’s Top 10 Books of 2015

Martin John’s mam says that she is glad he is done with it. But is Martin John done with it? He says he wants it to stop, his mother wants it to stop, we all want it to stop. But is it really what Martin John wants? He had it in his mind to do it and he did it. Harm was done when he did it. Harm would continue to be done. Who will stop Martin John? Will you stop him? Should she stop him?

From Anakana Schofield, the brilliant author of the bestselling Malarky, comes a darkly comic novel circuiting through the mind, motivations and preoccupations of a character many women have experienced but few have understood quite so well. The result confirms Schofield as one of the bravest and most innovative authors at work in English today.

Anakana Schofield is an Irish-born writer, who won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction in 2013 for her debut novel Malarky. Born in England, she lived in London and in Dublin, Ireland until moving to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1999. Malarky was also a shortlisted nominee for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. Schofield has also been a literary critic, essayist and broadcaster, contributing to the London Review of Books Blog, The Globe and Mail, CBC Radio, The Guardian, The Irish Times and The Vancouver Sun.

Praise for Martin John

"Deploying some serious literary gumption, Schofield’s frequently hilarious, and distinctly modernist, linguistic games are always gainfully employed in the uneasy, indelicate task of placing her reader nose to nose with the humanity of a sex offender — and a sex offender’s mother."—Eimear McBride, The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

"[A] frenetic, risk-taking novel ... deliberately cryptic and bleakly funny."The New Yorker

"It’s hard not to think of Lolita while reading Anakana Schofield?s Martin John ... In the cadenced, hypnotic style of Gertrude Stein, Ms. Schofield renders [Martin John’s] consciousness through a kind of staccato anti-poetry ... The result is a grotesquely memorable character pursued through his mazes of routines and obsessions and rationalizations."Wall Street Journal

"An important and brilliantly unconventional work."Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Dazzling ... With its discomfiting portraiture ... brain-puzzle of a storytelling technique, and utter assurance, Martin John easily matches the tremendous promise of Malarky, Schofield’s debut."Maclean’s

"Funny, distressing, and complicated."The Guardian

"Martin John is ... a comic tour de force ... Many writers have brazenly wandered into the minefield of mental illness, but few with Schofield?s peculiar decency and candour in not only depicting Martin John?s scheming turmoil, but also the bewildered righteousness of those surrounding him."—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times

"Brilliant ... While Schofield has digested all of postmodernism’s tics and tricks, her writing is fundamentally empathetic, and the various interventions feel like necessary attempts to render the unspeakable, rather than as flashy mystifications of a straightforward narrative. In its social critique, Martin John has much in common with the brilliant journalism of Ann Brocklehurst and Ed Tubb, but as an avant-garde novelist, Schofield is in a class unto herself."—David B. Hobbs, The Globe and Mail

"Exhilarating ... The weird and recursive prose makes the language startlingly vivid, and Martin John’s fractured narritiveive perspective is positively adrenal ... Schofield’s ability to get us jacked up from exquisitely written and deeply troubling jokes about a middle-aged public masturbator makes [her] one of the highest-flying and funniest working today."—Emily Keeler, The National Post

"The novel all your favourite novelists will be reading."—Mark Medley, The Globe and Mail

"Virtuosic ... [Schofield] has crafted a wholly believable journey into the mind of a deeply warped young man ... An astoundingly focused piece of writing."The Georgia Straight

"Language aside, innovation aside, what makes this book so compelling is the utterly convincing portrait of its troubled and troubling protagonist, Martin John. You might not like Martin John or want to run into him on the subway, but he will stay with you long after you have put the novel down, not least because of those uncomfortable bits of him that you’ll recognize in yourself."—Nino Ricci, CBC Books

"Martin John is the best novel I have read in years: long after reading it I feel that I am still reading it, being read by it."Geist

"Darkly funny, saddening, and compassionate ... [Martin John] shows readers how postmodern writing techniques can make some small sort of sense out of the seemingly insensible."Foreword Reviews

"Martin John, Schofield’s second novel, performs the paranoiac drama between identity, knowledge, recognition, and desire."Full Stop

"[A] stylistically audacious second novel."—Steven Beattie, Quill and Quire

"Effective and captivating ... The author?s tone in these segments is coolly detached and nearly journalistic, generating in the reader a sensation of voyeurism that is profoundly unsettling and in keeping with the experience of reading Martin John."—Shawn Syms, Quill and Quire

"Schofield?s trademark Celtic-Gothic sensibility is evident once again as Martin John explores madness, dark comedy, isolation and sexual compulsion."Toronto Star

"Fearless ... Pick [up this book] if you are enthralled by what the novel with its variable and elastic form can do as Schofield pushes the boundaries in careful calibrations of narrative structure and language that bites."The Vancouver Sun

"A bold novel ... Schofield shows her skill through precise, singular and forceful prose."The Sunday Telegraph, 5/5 Stars

"Necessary and urgent ... Martin John roars to life; chaotic, compelling and disjointed from the very first page."The Sunday Business Post

"Martin John is not interested in being an easy book. Not easy on its readers, and not easy on its title character ... [but] what makes this book so necessary is the way it makes us see what we’d rather not see."PRISM International

"The power of [Martin John] comes from its unpredictability ... [Schofield] walks the tricky line between creating empathy for a character without lessening the reader's understanding of the horror of his actions."—Tobias Carroll, Electric Literature

"Martin John is a profound, innovative, and poignant meditation on identity."—David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

"Profane, strange, hilarious, and necessary, Martin John is a beguiling triumph."—Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers

"This is a very moving and terrific book."—Daniel Handler (alias Lemony Snicket)

"Written with all the electrifying humour of her award-winning debut Malarky, exhibiting a startling grasp of the loops and obsessions of a molester's mind, Martin John is a testament to Canadian Irish author's Anakana Schofield's skill and audacity—and stands as a brilliant, Beckettian exploration of a man's long slide into deviancy."The Irish Post

"This is dangerous writing ... Schofield is giving voice to a marginalized perspective, one that is rarely heard or heard this clearly ... But this is why Martin John is necessary: Schofield is not a moralist, and her interest in human behaviour?honourable or deplorable?allows angles of light into neglected spaces of the human condition ... Brave and sensitive."The Winnipeg Free Press

"Conveyed in hilarious, deadpan beautiful prose ... Schofield’s first achievement is to burrow into Martin John’s rackety mind. Her second crucial achievement is to turn this unsettling apprehension into a necessary, extraordinary act of empathy."—Alison Gillmor, The Winnipeg Review

"Schofield gives us a complex and unrelenting portrait of a brain that will not co-operate."Edmonton Journal

"Spectacularly written ... You’ve never read anything like it."NOW Toronto

"Brilliant ... From Martin John?s uncanny repetitions and ellipses, Schofield forges beautiful and thrilling prose-poetry. The atmosphere of her language is stunningly distinctive."Literary Review

"A grown-up tale of how blighted lives carry on ... fizz[ing] with surface humour."The Spectator

"Martin John is a darkly comic story about a deeply troubled man ... an intelligent, deeply thought-provoking—and brave—novel."Reading Matters

"Humorous ... fast-paced ... for a novel about a sexual deviant, Martin John is positively breezy."—Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This

"This is literature serving its most essential function: illuminating the darkest recesses; dragging the unspoken and suppressed to the foreground of our consciousness; throwing light across the blackest of humanity’s vistas. This is writing at its most fearless: visceral and searing, yet textured and nuanced; the darkest of comedy and the deepest of insight, combined in a manner unique to Anakana Schofield."—Donal Ryan, author of The Thing About December and The Spinning Heart

"You’ll hold your breath while reading this novel. The story transgresses the body with or without our permission, and illuminates important ideas we ordinarily look away from. And yet it is now, more than ever, that we need to reread the body."—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Chronology of Water and Dora: A Headcase (with Chuck Palahniuk)

"Innovative in form, and challenging in subject, Anakana uses devastatingly specific prose that conversely portrays the poetry of human suffering. Martin John is moving, profoundly human and insightful, and, perhaps most importantly, darkly humorous."—Thalia Field, author of Bird Lovers, Backyard

"Anakana Schofield’s first book, Malarky, was one of my favourite books last year. This one is different; it is darker, creepier. But it is every bit as clever and bold."Consumed by Ink

Praise for Schofield’s Malarky

"A fine first novel."—Margaret Atwood

"A word of warning regarding this one of a kind tale of a woman’s endeavours to accept the realities of her life on their own terms- mid-guffaw you may find that you’ve taken it all most intensely to heart. I read Malarky over a year ago and Our Woman is still with me, so the process is probably irreversible."—Helen Oyeyemi, author of Mr Fox

"Malarky is a terrific read, a brilliant collision of heartbreak and hilarity written in a voice that somehow seems both feral and perfectly controlled. Anakana Schofield’s Our Woman takes a cool nod at Joyce, then goes her own way in one of the most moving and lyrical debut novels I’ve read."—Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins

"A caustic, funny, and moving fantasia of an Irish mammy going round the bend."—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

"Anakana Schofield is part of a new wave of wonderful Irish fiction — international in scope and electrically alive."—Colum McCann

"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. I delighted in the writing and the scope."—Jenny Diski, author of What I Don't Know About Animals

"A refreshing rejection of the escapist fantasy that dominates much of our cultural life ... I greatly enjoyed this novel, and I admire Schofield’s ability to pull off something so difficult with charm and brio."—Marina Lewycka, Guardian

"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."Sunday Telegraph

"‘Our Woman’ is either utterly mad or scarily sane, a uniquely distinctive voice in a funny and perceptive trip into the off-key oddness of rural life."Irish Times, Best Books of 2013

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

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