News and Interviews

The Proust Questionnaire, with Sofia Banzhaf

Sofia Banzhaf's Pony Castle (Metatron) was the winner of the 2015 Metatron Prize and was selected by and published a Kindle Single in November 2015. It has garnered praise from the likes of Lynn Crosbie, who called Banzhaf's writing "heaven" and urged readers to "wolf down Pony Castle". Stripped down, dark, and entrancing, Pony Castle heralds the arrival of a creative, adventurous new voice.

Today Sofia takes on our version of the famous Proust Questionnaire, where we get to know writers on a person level. She tells us about her greatest extravagances, the Canadian painters who capture her imagination, and offers a gorgeous motto you'll want to get embroidered on something.


What is your dream of happiness?

Lately, marriage, which comes as a shock. Making films with people I admire. Cooking a good meal with friends. Wine at dusk outside. Waking up in hotels. Bille Holiday and the NYT in bed on Sunday mornings. Riding trains. Wearing kimonos all day. Falling asleep on someone’s lap. Being halfway through a book and realizing I’ll never be the same. All the pets I’ve ever had playing together in heaven. Lots of money.

What is your idea of misery?


Where would you like to live?

On a hill.

What qualities do you admire most in a man?

Attentiveness, gentleness, decisiveness.

What qualities do you admire most in a woman?

Inventiveness, unadulterated rage, a flair for vulgarity.

What is your chief characteristic?

Anxious excitability.

What is your principal fault?

Prone to melancholy.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Sleeping in on weekdays. Expensive perfumes.

What faults in others are you most tolerant of?

Impenetrable optimism.

What do you value most about your friends?

Their steadfast creative drive and the fruit it bears. No judgement. Forceful hugging. Sincerity. I can depend on honesty and support.

What characteristic do you dislike most in others?

Tardiness, coolness.

What characteristic do you dislike most in yourself?


What is your favourite virtue?


What is your favourite occupation?

Dancing with someone I love.

What would you like to be?

At peace.

What is your favourite colour?

Lilac a.k.a. the colour corresponding to the crown chakra a.k.a. the colour with the highest frequency.

What is your favourite flower?

Jasmine, wild lavender, bougainvillea.

What is your favourite bird?

I enjoy the way sparrows bathe in fountains.

What historical figure do you admire the most?

Marchesa Luisa Casati certainly knew how to spend her money. Elvis. Nikola Tesla.

What character in history do you most dislike?

The squad who wrote The Bible.

Who are your favourite prose authors?

Jean Rhys, The Brontes, Catherine Lacey, Edith Wharton.

Who are your favourite poets?

Richard Brautigan, Ariana Reines, Eileen Myles, Lana del Rey.

Who are your favourite heroes in fiction?

Antoinette Cosway (Wide Sargasso Sea). Joana (Near to the Wild Heart).

Who are your heroes in real life?

Jean Rhys.

Who is your favourite painter?

Mary Pratt, Alex Colville.

Who is your favourite musician?

I’m listening to Lee Hazlewood right now.

What is your favourite food?

Cherries in the afternoon.

What is your favourite drink?

Half-flat sparkling water in the middle of the night.

What are your favourite names?

Isabel, Julian.

What is it you most dislike?

Being late.

What natural talent would you most like to possess?


How do you want to die?

Suddenly. Like in a car crash.

What is your current state of mind?

Wouldn’t mind moving to a farm.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?

Keeping my orchid alive for 10+ months.

What is your motto?

Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.


Sofia Banzhaf was raised in Germany and Newfoundland. She now lives in Toronto. Pony Castle is her first book.

Grace O'Connell is the Contributing Editor for Open Book: Toronto and the author of Magnified World (Random House Canada). She also writes a book column for This Magazine.

For more information about Magnified World please visit the Random House Canada website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.