EMWF Presenter Profiles 2019

Anakana Schofield

“All over this country, there are people waking up day by day beside people they are disappointed to discover aren’t dead.”

Anakana Schofield’s weighty debut novel, Malarky (2012), won the Amazon First Novel Award and the Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction. Only three years later her sophomore effort, Martin John, was not only shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, but was also a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize in the UK. Called “a beguiling triumph” by author Patrick deWitt, the darkly comic novel about a serial sex offender was named a best book of the year by the Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, the National Post, and the Toronto Star, among others.

Now, Anakana offers another bold story that will stay with us long after we’ve turned the final page. Bina: A Novel in Warnings once again showcases Anakana’s innovative approach to form and style. From the backs of napkins and envelopes, readers will receive counsel from the titular character, a 74-year-old woman torn between grieving the loss of her best friend, defending herself against those who will do her harm, and keeping her fragile – and understandable – anger under control. The novel navigates narratives of violence, assisted suicide, death, friendship, and madness, all with Anakana’s signature wit and control.

Rachel Cusk, Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Outline and Transit, refers to Anakana as “the most compassionate of storytellers, wearing the guide of the blackest comedian.” Once again, her writing is simultaneously sharp and subtle, and her deadpan delivery makes Bina a story that can be consumed over and over again.

You can hear Anakana Schofield talk about Bina at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on Sunday, September 8, 2019. We also welcome aspiring writers to join her for a writing workshop on September 7.

Samra Zafar

“What survivors need – beyond shelters, police, and counselling – is a sense of belonging. A community of support.” 

At the age of sixteen, Samra Zafar was forced into an arranged marriage that brought her from her family home in Pakistan to Canada. Soon after her arrival, the bright future she had been promised by her husband and his family quickly dimmed to become something much more sinister. With only her own strength to rely on, Samra rebuilt that bright future from within the shadow of her painful and oppressive reality, graduating from high school and saving enough money from a child care business to attend university. In 2013, soon after leaving her volatile husband, she graduated from the top of her class. She has since become an international speaker and the founder of Brave Beginnings, a not-for-profit organization created to help abuse victims.

Written in collaboration with author and editor Meg Masters, A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose, tells Zafar’s story of abuse, shame, and resilience. Expanding greatly on her widely-read article written for Toronto Life in 2017, the memoir follows her journey from childhood to adulthood and describes her experiences with unflinching honesty.

Samra’s story shines a light on important and sometimes uncomfortable truths about gender-based violence, social stigma, and generational trauma that cannot – and should not – be ignored. Simultaneously, A Good Wife offers readers a portrait of one exceptionally courageous woman who is living proof that systemic change can begin at home.

You can hear Samra discuss A Good Wife at the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival on Sunday, September 8, 2019.

View our 2018 Profiles here.