Anakana Schofield

Martin John

Shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize

Shortlisted for the 2015 Giller Prize

Shortlisted for the 2016 Ethel Wilson Prize for Fiction


To every question he said he didn’t know. Still they came, the questions came. I don’t know did not put a stop to them.

– from Martin John

Read an Excerpt

About the Book

Martin John must put a stop to it. They have an agreement, he and Mam. Get out to Aunty Noanie on Wednesday. Stop talking rubbish. Don’t go near the buses and don’t go down on the Tube. Keep yourself on the outside. Get a job at night. Get a job at night or else I’ll come for ya.

But Martin John can’t stop. Meddlers are interrupting him and Martin John doesn’t like Meddlers. If he’s interrupted he can’t complete his circuits; if he can’t complete his circuits, bad things may happen. That’s a fact.

Written with all the electrifying humour of her award-winning debut Malarky, exhibiting a startling grasp of the loops and obsessions of a molester’s mind, Martin John is a testament to Anakana Schofield’s skill and audacity—and stands as a brilliant, Beckettian exploration of a man’s long slide into deviancy.

More Info

  • Read more about Anakana Schofield on our authors’ page.
  • Martin John was shortlisted for the 2016 Goldsmith’s Prize, the 2015 Giller Prize (Canada’s answer to the Booker), and the 2016 Ethel Wilson Prize for Fiction.
  • You can read Anakana Schofield’s short piece 5 x 5 Rooms for the Human Rights Day ‘Writing Rights’ series in the Irish Times.
  • Anakana Schofield’s debut novel Malarky won the First Novel Award and the Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction in 2013.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before 27th July 2015, we would have sent you a first edition copy of the book – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – before its official publication. To receive up to 6 And Other Stories titles per year, find out how to subscribe.
Print status: Out of Print
Original language: English
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 4 February 2016
ISBN: 9781908276667
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276674
Number of pages: 336


Eimear McBride
The New York Times

‘Deploying some serious literary gumption, Schofield’s frequently hilarious, and distinctly modernist, linguistic games are always gainfully employed in the uneasy, indelicate task of placing her reader nose to nose with the humanity of a sex offender . . .  addictively reflexive, and potentially lethal.’

Kirsty Gunn
New Statesman

‘In Martin John – more than the detailed research into sexual deviancy that has gone into creating a terrible life with its own nauseating logic and rules – it is the invisible maker, shaping and endlessly fiddling with the content of the story, who draws us in and makes it real. Schofield gives us a portrait of someone who is not only believable, but understandable.’

Donal Ryan

‘This is literature serving its most essential function: illuminating the darkest recesses; dragging the unspoken and suppressed to the foreground of our consciousness; throwing light across the blackest of humanity’s vistas. This is writing at its most fearless: visceral and searing, yet textured and nuanced; the darkest of comedy and the deepest of insight, combined in a manner unique to Anakana Schofield.’

Sara Baume
Irish Times

Martin John is a work of marvellous contradiction: the uncomfortable content belied by ravishing style, irresistible rhythm and exquisitely murky humour. This is risk-taking fiction at its most insightful.’

John Self
The Guardian

‘Ambiguous; funny; distressing and complicated . . . this novel challenges our reactions to what Martin John does, to what men do.’

Cassie Davies
Sunday Telegraph

‘Schofield writes without judgment, making her new novel an exceptional, albeit uncomfortable, reading into the mind of a paranoid, compulsive sex offender . . . Schofield shows her skill through precise, singular and forceful prose. Five stars.’

Eileen Battersby
Irish Times

‘Be warned: regardless of one’s views on sexual deviants who prey on women . . . Martin John will make you ill with laughing but also guilty for smiling at a human tragedy . . . Many writers have brazenly wandered into the minefield of mental illness, but few with Schofield’s peculiar decency and candour.’

Jeffrey Burke
Mail on Sunday

‘Schofield tells the story from inside [Martin John’s] anxious mind, in a voice jagged, funny and unsettling . . . Irresistible and humorous.’

Anthony Cummins
The Spectator

‘A grown-up tale of how blighted lives carry on . . . fizz[ing] with surface humour . . . this is a book about social breakdown as well as mental breakdown, with a portrait — almost in passing — of a no-questions-asked migrant labour market in which Martin John can be tolerated but not helped.’

The New Yorker

‘Frenetic, risk-taking . . . deliberately cryptic and bleakly funny, Martin John puts you inside the mind of a person you’d strive to avoid in real life, but also points to the fundamental elusiveness of character.’

Sam Sacks
The Wall Street Journal

‘Eerie and elliptical . . . Ms. Schofield renders Martin John’s consciousness through a kind of staccato anti-poetry.’

Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘Schofield eschews an excess of detail to terrific effect. The novel’s harsh, sometimes broken language, paired with a minimum of punctuation, crafts a deliberate and effective sense of confusion, as if entering a mind or minds in the midst of great turmoil . . . This is an important and brilliantly unconventional work.’