Broken Fiction by Marlene Kadar

Part fiction, part memoir, part diary, part blank verse: what is Broken Fiction, exactly? This was a question I kept asking myself as I read it. Marlene Kadar plays with genre and form skillfully, blending everything together into an odd collection of short entries, mostly in non-chronological order. Broken Fiction is a form of autofiction, using pieces from Kadar’s life and blending them with fiction, scholarly work, and poetry. Some of Broken Fiction is real, and some is not. Whatever is and isn’t real doesn’t matter, because Kadar’s emotions and impressions of each moment chronicled in this book strike so very real.

Broken Fiction challenges its readers to think outside the frame of the book, seeking to be in conversation with other writings.”

The flip side to Broken Fiction is that this is clearly a book written by an academic. If you’re familiar with the tone of most academic writing, you’ll recognize this instantly. I (a librarian who reads research articles every single day) am not put off by that, but it does make Broken Fiction somewhat inaccessible for those who aren’t familiar with the conventions of academic writing. Kadar is an excellent writer, and so it’s a pleasure to read, but the text is littered with citations and notes leading to additional readings. Broken Fiction challenges its readers to think outside the frame of the book, seeking to be in conversation with other writings.

Broken Fiction is largely about illness, detailing the narrator’s journey with lymphoma, looking at illness through multiple lenses. Kadar uses pictures from her life liberally within the text, to illustrate her point in certain passages. (Side note: I very much appreciate the photos being printed in colour – this is an overlooked choice in the design of a book!) In dealing with her own illness, the narrator explores her memories, dealing with grief about her illness, but also the passage of time, the loss of family members, and the loss of different stages of life. It’s a highly introspective book, very experimental, and forces you to sit with the uncomfortable moments Kadar writes about.

This book is strange, but also deeply thoughtful and open. The quality of writing is strong, and centring it in communication with other writing lends it a community feeling – Kadar does not seek to position her work by itself, but as part of a literary tradition. It will be difficult for those who don’t often engage with academic writing, because Kadar’s background as an academic does bleed through the writing. However, taking the time to wander through Broken Fiction will leave you with an appreciation for all of the things Kadar brings together in this book, so cohesively.

About the Author

Marlene Kadar is a writer who lives in Toronto. She is also Professor Emerita and Senior Scholar in the Department of Humanities, and in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. Marlene Kadar is the Founding Editor and Co-editor of the Life Writing Series at Wilfrid Laurier University Press, and the Literary Editor of Canadian Woman Studies.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Inanna Publications (May 16 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1771339454
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1771339452