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also available: eBook
category: Literary Collections
published: May 2011
publisher: Anvil Press Publishers

Afflictions & Departures

by Madeline Sonik

tagged: essays

'Afflictions & Departures' is a collection of first-person experiential essays by writer and academic Madeline Sonik. Although Sonik explores some of the salient personal experiences of her young life, the essays in 'Afflictions & Departures' are not traditional memoir. In addition to incidents and feelings recaptured from memory, Sonik seeks out connections between the microcosm of of the daily events of her childhood and the social, historical, and scientific trends of the time. 'Afflicitons & 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. In 'Afflictions & Departures ' Sonik exercises both intellectual depth and emotional range. The essays are as incisive as they are deeply moving, and leave the reader with a sense of history as it was lived, not as it is codified in countless textbooks.

"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'

"Honesty has to be at the centre of any memoir, and 'Afflictions & Departures' pulsates with raw, straightforward truth. ... Sonikhas overcome enormous challenges and turned them into literary jewels. This book encourages readers to think about family, memory and history - and above all, resilience." - Times Colonist

Winner of the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize

Finalist, Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction

Nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian non-Fiction

About the Author

Madeline Sonik

Contributor Notes

Madeline Sonik is a teacher, writer, and editor. Her work has been published extensively in journals, magazines, and academic anthologies. Her latest books include: 'Stone Sightings' (poetry), 'Arms' (a novel), 'Drying the Bones' (stories) and 'Belinda and the Dustbunnys' (children's novel). She has a MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Education, both from UBC. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards, prizes, and fellowships for her writing. She currently teaches at theUniversity of Victoria.

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