Recommended Readings

Contemporary Irish Writers


Born in Dublin in 1962, Enright is yet another of Irish female writers challenging the world literary landscape. She deals with family relationships, love, sex, and the complex Irish past and present. Her statement “I’m Irish and all my family are mad.” provides a direct insight to her view of Irish life.

She is regarded as part of the tradition of Irish writers who explore Irish family life in acute and often harrowing detail. Yet though her depictions of family relationships, love, sex, repression and Catholicism are delivered with savage honesty, this is usually combined with a dry and subtle humor, and a rich and sometimes surreal prose style.

Her early novel. The Wig My Father Wore, (but could never be mentioned) was published in 1995. It discusses family life and the love experienced by the female protagonist and a former saint who had committed suicide and had come to earth to save souls. Needless to say, a love develops between the the girl and the returned saint. Enright is nothing if not routinely original.

All of her eight novels are well worth reading. Her best known is probably The Gathering which was published in 2007.

The Gathering is based first in England then moves to Ireland. It revolves around the suicide of an alcoholic Irishman. The primary voice is that of a sister closest to him. She uncovers uncomfortable truths about the past and how it directly and indirectly impacted her brother’s suicide and the entire family.

Although Enright is somewhat dismissive of the book, referring it to “the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood weepie,” her book was the unanimous choice of the judges who awarded it the Man Booker award for fiction.

Still only fifty eight, it’s impossible to grasp what work Enright may create in the future. But even if she were to die today, her contribution to contemporary English literature has been immense.