Afflictions & Departures

By Madeline Sonik

Afflictions & Departures
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Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Finalist, Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Afflictions & Departures is a collection of first-person experiential essays. However, this is not the realm of traditional ... Read more


Overview

Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Finalist, Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction

Nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

Afflictions & Departures is a collection of first-person experiential essays. However, this is not the realm of traditional memoir—in addition to incidents and feelings recaptured from memory, Sonik seeks out connections between the microcosm of the daily events of her childhood and adolescence, and the social, historical, and scientific trends of the time.

Afflictions & Departures begins by considering the turbulent and changing nature of the world in the late 1950s and early 1960s—the world in which the author was conceived and born. Like many couples of that era, Madeline Sonik’s parents focused on shared social and economic ambitions at the expense of authentic personal feeling. These ambitions would erode and, by the 1970s, completely collapse.

These essays are as incisive as they are moving, and leave the reader with a sense of history as it was lived, not as it is codified in countless textbooks.

Praise for Afflictions & Departures:

“Startlingly original, Madeline Sonik’s moving story of her childhood defies all our expectations of memoir. She captures crystalline moments of childhood memory and links them in a daisy-chain with corresponding events of the tumultuous societal change taking place outside her home. It is North America in the 1960s and 70s and her letter-perfect, child’s-eye view of the world brings back that time with such intensity that the reader can almost smell and taste it. Droll, tragic, and absolutely compelling, Afflictions and Departures is a visceral portrayal of a family imploding.” (Jury, Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction)

“Her memory is dustless, capacious, uncanny. With a storyteller’s skill and a poet’s depth of vision, she recreates her childhood with one eye on her family and the other on the larger world. Significant cultural markers sit side-by-side with the small, painful intensities of her childhood. This memoir is crammed with pathos, yet is written with a light touch. I adore the narrator who never falls into self-pity or narcissism. The clarity of her vision makes the prose gleam and transforms autobiography into art.” (Lorna Crozier, author of Small Beneath the Sky)

“From the patchwork craziness of a sixties and seventies suburban childhood, Madeline Sonik has fashioned a singular coming-of-age story in which the age itself assumes a starring role. Sharply observed, hilarious, and heartbreaking, Afflictions & Departures is a wise, tender, and beautifully written book.” (Susan Olding, author of Pathologies: a life in essays)

Madeline Sonik

Madeline Sonik's first collection of short fiction, Drying the Bones, was released by Nightwood Editions in 2000. She is the co-editor of the recently released anthology Entering the Landscape (Oberon) and in 1998 identified a new direction in Canadian writing with the anthology Fresh Blood: New Canadian Gothic Fiction (Turnstone Press). Her fiction and poetry have appeared in major literary magazines, including Event, Grain, Pottersfield Portfolio, The New Quarterly and Descant. She holds an MA in Journalism and is currently an MFA candidate at The University of British Columbia. She is also a black cord priestess of 13th House Mystery School and a practicing witch.

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