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Bina: A Novel in Warnings
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The Goldsmiths Prize > 2020 Goldsmiths Shortlist - Bina

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Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments That's Bye-na, not Beena. I don't know who Beena is but I expect she's having a happy life.


message 3: by Paul (last edited Oct 14, 2020 12:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments Utterly bonkers and completely wonderful

(but does require a working knowledge of Martin John and Malarky for a full apprecation)


Hugh (bodachliath) | 3391 comments Mod
I am struggling to find the right edition of this one - I think some librarian tidying is required - the ISBN Waterstones quote for the hardback (9780349726465) links to a Kindle edition here, and the only hard copies I can see are Canadian.


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments I had to import my copy from Canada last year so my review is linked to the Canadian version, but it does now have a UK publisher


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments Bina on the Irish prime minister:

I can’t remember his name but he’s very hairy ears though. A bit like a wolf.

I’ll be honest I’m only repeating what a woman I delivered Meals on Wheels to said about him, because I’m not much for television. Her name was Mary and one day out of nowhere she said, would you look at the ears on him. She was pointing at the television channel claiming it was the Taoiseach. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was actually a badger and now I’m after repeating the story myself without remembering the woman was confused.



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WndyJW | 5702 comments I liked Martin John, should I read Malarky before reading Bina?


Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments I don’t think it is necessary and it was my least favourite of the trilogy (A Novel in Episodes, A Novel in Refrains and this one, A Novel in Warnings)

But it adds a layer as there are cross references, including who Bina is in the first place, her kidney problems and who Phil and Eddie are. Indeed the first page has a footnote referring you to Malarky.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments I was going to read Malarky also


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Robert | 2141 comments I've got malarky on the TBR stack - i've just ordered the four titles I haven't read through my local indie booksellers so there's a huge possibility that I'll get to that first.

I read Martin John when it was shortlisted for the RoC prize of that year.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments Was Martin John Goldsmith or RoC listed first?


message 13: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "Was Martin John Goldsmith or RoC listed first?"

Goldsmiths. Due to timing - Goldsmiths is usually first other than for books published in Nov/Dec.

Giller Prize of course beat them both to it.


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WndyJW | 5702 comments I didn’t know there was a trilogy. I admit the thought of adding 2 more books to Goldsmith reading does not bring me joy when there are so many books I have and want to get to.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments Just started this after a quick-ish read through Malarky and it does feel like it helps to read it.

Tow other comments from me:

The narrator goes to rather convoluted lengths to avoid what she sees as a spoiler (this is a book where the narrator addresses the reader very directly - and she gives clues to what happened but tries very hard not to say). Some Goodreads and media reviews in turn avoid saying what the book is about. But the Goldsmith judges in their nomination and the author in some interviews make it very clear up front. Not sure what we want to do on this thread.

The book has a remarkable degree of overlap with a novel published this year by a member of this forum.


message 16: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments Yes unusually for me (as someone who doesn’t generally believe in the concept of spoilers) my review leaves open what Bina is being recruited to do, as, as you say, the book seems to want it to be a big reveal.

Although there may be an element of Solar Bones here - where what seemed a massive spoiler bloober by the UK publisher - was welcomed by the author. Since in interviews Schofield has revealed it.


message 17: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments Though with Solar Bones the concept was that the author and readers knew something the narrator didn’t - ie that he was dead.

Whereas here the narrator is withholding the information from the reader.


message 18: by Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer (last edited Oct 28, 2020 12:58AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments
Don't read this without first reading Malarky (1)
Do read this before reading the Goldsmith (or New Statesman) write ups of the shortlisted books (2)
These serve as my first two warnings


Oh and do read my (1) review for why I am saying this.

(1) That's Gumble not Grumble - I have not idea who Grumble's Yard is but I expect he is having a moan.


message 19: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments That's better - see Bina is infectious.

I read this in August 2019 and the voice still remains with me.


message 20: by Neil (new) - rated it 3 stars

Neil | 1988 comments Just finished this (and, therefore, the whole shortlist) and I was not as convinced as Paul by the narrator’s voice. I preferred Our Woman from Malarky. I liked that this book felt a bit more subtle, but I found the writing style more annoying than in Schofield’s other books. That might be because I read Malarky and Bina back to back.


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments More subtle than Malarky is setting a very low bar


message 22: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments But if she is talking and saying nothing

There's sometimes a lot being said

Listen into the gaps of what's not being said and you'll find your answer.


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WndyJW | 5702 comments Listen into the gaps of what's not being said and you'll find your answer. I would ask if that was a quote from Yoda, but the subject was at the end of the sentence.

I saw a very funny Yoda meme today that made me laugh, laugh on Nov 3, 2020, in the US, so I’ve had Yoda on my mind.

Did you know that Yoda had a last name?
It was Layheehoo.


message 24: by Paul (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 9836 comments From the author's New Statesman interview and which probably explains why I liked this so much (I've just written a 9 page article for example, which has 15 footnotes)

Q: There are footnotes that interrupt, go on tangents or add context to what Bina is saying. Can you tell me about those?

A: The footnote is a form I've been playing with since I began this triptych of novels. It was mostly a device of self-provocation or devilment. I put a single footnote in Malarky which read “*See Martin John – a footnote novel”. Obviously, I had no idea I would write such a novel. Martin John is a single footnote of a novel to Malarky. Then, for Bina, I took a hammer to the notion of the footnote and it is shot through with them, including referring back to Malarky. So there's a progression across the novels of the deployment of that device. For Bina, the footnote serves as the collection tank for brain leakage. The afterthought, or “I can't revisit the thought I expressed before so I need to make a new one, or expand that one…”, or “I forgot to tell you…”. Again, I am fascinated by the human brain and how it navigates the world in a non-linear way. The tangent is such a common conversational trait. Humans are not nearly as tidy in their thinking and rumbles as the novel can sometimes insist. We are contradictory and lost.



Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments Paul - even your conversations have footnotes!


Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6254 comments Her comment is interesting. I had been unsure if she knew about Martin John when she wrote that note in Malarky - so that is impressive.

However I felt she did not really take the footnotes very far at all in Bina.

To pick two novels by diverse authors eligible for the prize - I could compare it unfavorably to say the Okotie trilogy where the footnotes actually give the plot or Exquisite Cadavers which took footnotes (and that as an aside is what the Goodreads blurb calls them) to a whole new level.


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