As previously reported, the International Festival of Literature Dublin is underway, providing lovers of books with a veritable smorgasbord of Irish and international writers. I spoke briefly to author Anakana Schofield, who was at Dublin’s Smock Alley Theatre reading from Martin John, a bold and daring, darkly funny novel about the title character (a flasher and simple-minded molester) and his descent into deviancy and mental illness. Schofield grew up in Ireland and Britain, and now lives in Vancouver. Tuesday evening was the first time she had ever read in Dublin. Although she hasn’t lived in Ireland for a long time, she still feels Irish, but feels equally British and Canadian. “We have this thing in Ireland of always needing verification. We need to keep verifying … it’s like you need a blood test. When I go to England, people still identify me as Irish, and in Canada nobody really cares, because there are so many people from everywhere. But I still feel Irish. I feel myself an Irish woman writer.”
Does she see herself as part of the tradition of Irish literary exiles? “No, I think I’m really odd. People keep talking about the renaissance in Irish fiction. I think it’s absolute nonsense. I can’t understand what the renaissance is… Writers are always writing. I find it [the idea of a renaissance] really boring. I just have some issues with the notion of geography. You need to look at the language. You need to look at what they are responding to. What are they doing in terms of literature, not Where did you happen to be born? That’s an accident, something you don’t control. The work, you control.” You can listen to the interview in full here. The International Festival of Literature Dublin continues until Sunday.