Cautionary Tale

A woman shouldn’t have to explain herself

Bina is a busy woman. She is a ­practical woman. An older woman. Bina is “a modern woman with modern thoughts on modern things,” and she is tired of not being heard. That’s “Bye‑na,” not “Bee‑na,” she’ll have you know. “Beena” is some other woman off living some happy life, and “Bye‑na” has little time for such simple, rosy outcomes. In fact, there’s very little that’s straightforward in Bina, the third novel from the Irish-Canadian writer Anakana Schofield. So, reader, you have been warned.

For this is a cyclical collection of warnings, of insular musings, of do nots and watch out fors. It is a contemporary story of an ordinary-­extraordinary older Irish woman who lives in a village outside Castlebar (not in Castlebar, which Bina hates: “They think they are Milan in Castlebar”). But setting is hardly important here. Bina is a woman who has simply...