Unflinching observer

[caption id="attachment_67069" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Anne Enright."]


Anne Enright has developed a reputation for saying the unsayable, which is one reason that people might show up next Monday night at the 92nd St. Y, where she is a guest alongside fellow novelist Michael Ondaatje. Her London Review of Books essay on the "mass paranoia" induced by the disappearance of 4-year-old Madeleine McCann was described as "startlingly explicit" in a profile of the writer in the London Independent.

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That same month, October 2007, Enright won the Man Booker Prize for her fourth novel, "The Gathering." (Ondaatje won in 1992 for "The English Patient".) It looks at what happens to the Hegartys when their brother Liam dies. "A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly," commented the reviewer of Publishers Weekly.

The former RTE television producer and director Enright became a fulltime writer in 1993, a couple of years after she won the Rooney Prize for Literature. Enright told the Echo that her latest, "The Forgotten Waltz," is about "Adultery, children, true love in the Irish boom."

What is your writing routine? Are there ideal conditions?

I write all the time, whenever I get the time, day or evening, at home or on a plane. Or I did for 10 years or so. Since this last book came out I have been taking a break, which is strange and wonderful. Haven't written a thing. Except, now, this.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Everyone fails, that is not the interesting thing about your day.

Name three books that are memorable in terms of your reading pleasure.

Just this Summer I read "Gilead," by Marilynne Robinson, "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell and "Eucalyptus" by the Australian writer Murray Bail - all of them were terrific and full of pleasure, both the reader's and the writer's.

What book are you currently reading?

See last answer.

Is there a book you wish you had written?

When I am not writing, I can read happily and say "Oh I wish I had written that." When I am thinking about a book, or have one on the go, I tend to push books away because they are not as "right" as the one I am about to put on the page. But, like many writers, I am always disappointed in my own finished work, and am happy to revere the work of others: I would always look wistfully at "Madame Bovary," for example, or "Love in the Time of Cholera," or any number of great books.

Name a book that you were pleasantly surprised by.

I thought Cormac McCarthy would be too testosterone-bound for me, but when I read "Blood Meridian" there was nothing "pleasantly surprising" about it. His work takes you by storm.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be?


What book changed your life?

I don't know if my life has changed.

What is your favorite spot in Ireland?

After 10 years living in Bray I have just recently fallen in love with the seafront; with its view of Killiney and north to Howth.

You're Irish if . . .

You want to be.

She will be introduced by Belinda McKeon, author of "Solace." For details go to 92y.org.