Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 15
- Grade: 10
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.
About the author
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.
- Winner, City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
Afflictions & Departures: EssaysCombining a personal memoir and the history of an era, this collection of first-person essays traces the author’s life from conception in 1959 through her adolescence. With a poet’s depth of vision, Sonik juxtaposes the turbulent social and political events of the 1960s and 1970s to her painful daily childhood experiences. In this way, she reveals how the changing mores and values of the time affected her family relationships and her sense of self. The terms ‘dysfunctional family’ and ‘child abuse’ were not yet common yet they describe a family composed of an alcoholic father and dissatisfied mother. The façade of suburban neighbourhoods did not deceive this author/ child. These compelling essays describe a time when society was profoundly transforming.
Sonik has written several books and currently teaches at the University of Victoria.
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2011-2012.