Thursday 28 March 2019


Finished March 26
Bina by Anakana Schofield

This novel is unlike anything I've ever read. I loved the writing and the character right from the stary, and I could barely put it down. I've already talked it up to one of my co-workers.
Bina is the narrator of this tale, writing her thoughts, her warnings, her remarkings on bits of paper she finds around her house, such as the back of receipts. She is talking to the reader, and makes that clear a few times by what she writes. The book is divided into titles sections, some quite short and others very long. The first one, a short one is Warnings and the first page of that makes clear that that is indeed what this is meant to be. The second page of this section has Bina introducing herself, and one of the first things she makes clear is her name. It is pronounced Bye-na, not Bee-na.
This information is followed by an address to the reader
I don't know who you are, or the state of your life. But if you've come all this way here to listen to me, your life will undoubtedly get worse. I'm here to warn you, not to reassure you
Bina repeats herself a lot, wanting to make clear the message that she is trying to get across to the reader, yet still trying not to implicate herself in anything she shouldn't.
As her story gradually becomes more clear, you begin to understand what she has been accused of, and what she has actually done.
I liked her. She is feisty and wants to make sure others don't make the same mistakes she made. She is looking back, recognizing where she made a wrong move, and regretting some of the things she did. Bina is a nice woman, a woman that genuinely cares about people, and that is both her strength and her weakness. She knows that she has been taken advantage of, but isn't sure what she should have done to get out of it, only how she could have not got into it in the first place.
This is a story of people. People like Bina, who care about other people, and people like Eddie, who don't. Bina is a survivor, but one who struggles greatly.
The book has footnotes that are helpful in providing additional explanation, with some reaching back to a previous book by the author that I haven't read, but am now intrigued to.
Her first two warnings are about letting in men into your life. One comes via a ditch, and one comes via a door, and neither one led to good times for Bina.
So that is what the next two sections of the book are Ditch and Door. When Bina needs to think, or escape a situation, her refuge is her bed, or in the Irish language, Leaba, thus the name of the next section. She prepares herself well when she enters her bed, as she is not doing this for the first time in her life. As she herself writes,
When I go to bed, I really go to bed. Alone. All alone. There's no one invited in. There's no one to invite in. The first time I went to bed I didn't get back up for two months. This time I haven't counted. 
The last section, a long one, is Remarkings, and again she is clear about this. She writes
My name is still Bina and these are my remarkings.
Remarkings are different from warnings.
But you will find warnings within the remarkings
If you are careful enough to notice them.
And if you don't, I can't help you.
It's how it has to be.
As you can perhaps tell from the quotes above, the book has bits written in free verse, a nice way to place the words that makes them even more meaningful. Sometimes Bina refers to herself by name as if she is talking about someone else. Other times she talks in first person. There is a lot of beautiful wordplay going on here, and I loved it. I can hear her voice in my head, and I'm listening.

1 comment:

  1. This one's intriguing. I really like those quotes.