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Antigone in Galway

Anne Enright, 17 December 2015

... Creon’s edict and bury the corpse. And so she does. When asked to deny the crime, she says, in Anne Carson’s 2012 translation of Sophocles: ‘I did the deed I do not deny it.’ She does not seek to justify her actions within the terms of Creon’s law: she negates the law by handing it back to him, intact – ‘If you call that law.’ Antigone later ...

What’s left of Henrietta Lacks?

Anne Enright: HeLa, 13 April 2000

... I don’t know where I heard of her first: a woman whose cells are bred in culture dishes in labs all over the world; a woman whose cells were so prolific that there is more of her now, in terms of biomass, then there ever was when she was alive. It seems to me that she is one of the saints who multiplied in reliquaries after their death, to produce, as Ian Paisley’s website reminds us (in an essay called ‘The Errors of Rome’), the many prepuces of the infant Jesus, and the variously coloured hair of His madly trichogenous mother ...


Anne Enright: Call Yourself George, 21 September 2017

... In​ 2015, the novelist Catherine Nichols sent the opening pages of the book she was working on to fifty literary agents. She got so little response she decided to shift gender and try as ‘George’ instead. The difference amazed her. ‘A third of the agents who saw his query wanted to see more, where my numbers never did shift from one in 25.’ The words, as written by George, had an appeal that Catherine could only envy ...


Anne Enright: Censorship in Ireland, 21 March 2013

... In September 1954, my parents went to Edinburgh on their honeymoon. There is a picture of them taken in Princes Street Gardens, in front of the view of the Castle, my mother is wearing her white fun fur jacket, my father is wearing a big smile; they look full of their moment and altogether content. No one knows why they went to Edinburgh, they just wanted to, and after that they went to Lourdes ...

The Genesis of Blame

Anne Enright, 8 March 2018

... A couple​ of weeks ago, the pope described ‘fake news’ as being like the strategy employed by the ‘crafty serpent’ in the Book of Genesis. ‘The strategy of this skilled “Father of Lies”,’ he said in a statement aimed at both Trump and the purveyors of social media, ‘is precisely mimicry, that sly and dangerous form of seduction that worms its way into the heart with false and alluring arguments ...

Bringers of Ill Luck and Bad Weather

Penelope Fitzgerald: Anne Enright, 2 March 2000

What Are You Like 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 257 pp., £10, March 2000, 0 224 06063 5
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... In Anne Enright’s collection The Portable Virgin (published in 1991) the first story is about Cathy, who works in the handbag department of a large Dublin store. Cathy classifies the customers by the bags she induces them to buy, bags which ‘take them one step beyond who they thought they might be.’. Cathy marries late, but only falls violently in love when a ‘loose, rangy woman’ comes into the store and fingers the most beautiful of imports, ‘an Argentinian calf-skin shoulder bag in tobacco brown ...

All Reputation

Hermione Lee: Eliza and Clara, 17 October 2002

The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 230 pp., £12.99, September 2002, 0 224 06269 7
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by Janice Galloway.
Cape, 425 pp., £10.99, June 2002, 0 224 05049 4
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... good novel Foreign Parts, and uses a quite different kind of prose here from her earlier work. Anne Enright moves out and away from Dublin, though Eliza Lynch’s Irishness, and her childhood in the ‘bitter town’ of Mallow, do call her home. Both take on the fiction writer’s tussle with history and biography, shaping these real lives to their ...

What Family Does to You

Eleanor Birne: Anne Enright, 18 October 2007

The Gathering 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2007, 978 0 224 07873 3
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... The Gathering – Anne Enright’s fourth novel, and her best – is aware of its heritage, of the books that have gone before it. It makes use of familiar signals and motifs. It is centred on a wake for a man who has died early: an alcoholic who was betrayed as a child, part of a large, chaotic family. So far so Irish ...

Bury that bastard

Nicole Flattery, 5 March 2020

by Anne Enright.
Cape, 264 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 78733 206 5
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... This scene reminds me of something I underlined in ‘The Portable Virgin’, an early story of Anne Enright’s: ‘I’m not that old after all. Revenge is not out of the question.’ The title of Enright’s seventh novel could easily be ‘I’m going to bury that bastard.’ Then again, as a title Actress is ...

Small Hearts

Terry Eagleton: Anne Enright, 4 June 2015

The Green Road 
by Anne Enright.
Cape, 310 pp., £16.99, May 2015, 978 0 224 08905 0
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... lives unfulfilled and relationships cockpits of gladiatorial combat. Almost all the characters in Anne Enright’s superb new novel are spiritually damaged in one way or another, but we are not told exactly how they landed up like this, and it would seem churlish to inquire. Do you end up an alcoholic, like one of the characters here, because you have ...

Let’s Do the Time Warp

Clair Wills: Modern Irish History, 3 July 2008

Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change c.1970-2000 
by R.F. Foster.
Penguin, 228 pp., £8.99, July 2008, 978 0 14 101765 5
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... only for the book-buying public at home, but for a huge diasporic audience. Whether the w0rk of Anne Enright, Sebastian Barry, Colm Tóibín, Patrick McCabe and Dermot Bolger constitutes a ‘new direction in Irish fiction’ is less certain. The major trope of Irish fiction is certainly no longer Modernist paralysis but change – Tóibín’s second ...

Cramming for Success

James Wood: Hardy in London, 15 June 2017

Thomas Hardy: Half A Londoner 
by Mark Ford.
Harvard, 305 pp., £20, October 2016, 978 0 674 73789 1
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... element, some essential life-force – still informs much contemporary work. Think of fiction by Anne Enright, Eimear McBride, Alan Hollinghurst; but also, in an important postcolonial modification, Naipaul, Amit Chaudhuri, Zia Haider Rahman. We were Hardy’s heirs, without quite knowing it; Mark Ford has located the ...

Dentists? No Way

Naoise Dolan, 7 January 2021

As You Were 
by Elaine Feeney.
Harvill Secker, 392 pp., £14.99, August 2020, 978 1 78730 163 4
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... mind them.’Feeney balances this material against evasion and omission – the John McGahern and Anne Enright school of hiding trauma in narrative cracks. As You Were is haunted by the abuses of women in recent Irish history. Between 1925 and 1961 a maternity home for unmarried mothers and their children operated in Tuam, a large town in Galway, the ...
... be on their minds too. It would be nice if it did exist. It would be nice if they believed it did. Anne Enright Some​ friendships have curdled. There’s a new taboo at dinner parties; certain topics are best avoided until you can be sure that the whole table belongs to the same camp. ‘Is it like Northern Ireland without the bombs?’ a visiting ...

What makes a waif?

Joanne O’Leary, 13 September 2018

The Long-Winded Lady: Tales from the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 215 pp., £10.99, January 2017, 978 1 906539 59 7
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Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the ‘New Yorker’ 
by Angela Bourke.
Counterpoint, 360 pp., $16.95, February 2016, 978 1 61902 715 2
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The Springs of Affection: Stories 
by Maeve Brennan.
Stinging Fly, 368 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 906539 54 2
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... reinforces this quality, seeming to echo the ‘lovely’ but ‘unyielding’ sentences that Anne Enright describes in the volume’s introduction. It’s difficult to look at Brennan here and not think of the words she puts in a missionary’s mouth in ‘Stories of Africa’: ‘You could say that an exile was a person who knew of a country that ...

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