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28Mar

Bina by Anakana Schofield review – 'for every woman who has had enough'

Seventysomething Bina has taken to her bed in a quirky novel that captures the mind’s twists and turns with crow-black humour

When the high priestess of commodified minimalism, Marie Kondo, encouraged her followers to gut their book collections and keep only the handful of volumes that “spark joy”, Irish-Canadian author Anakana Schofield led the bibliophilic counter-insurgency. “Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure,” she wrote in the Guardian in January. “Art should also challenge and perturb us.”

Schofield is an unabashed agitator, a conjurer of discomfort: whether it’s the agonised mind of a sex offender, or the sorrows of a disintegrating marriage. Like her absurdist compatriots – Beckett, Joyce, O’Brien – Schofield’s novels are existentially confounding, syntactically wild, and buckshot with wit. And while she may behave like a form wrecker, she is at heart a world builder. Each of her novels inhabits the same literary universe she created in her debut, 2013’s Malarkey, a funhouse mirror reflection of contemporary Irish life.

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