Anne Enright was born in Dublin, where she now lives and works. She has published two collection of stories, collected as Yesterday's Weather, one book of non-fiction, Making Babies, and five novels, including The Gathering, which was the Irish Novel of the Year, and won the Irish Fiction Award and the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and The Forgotten Waltz, which was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. She is the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.
In the taut latest from Enright (What Are You Like?), middle-aged Veronica Hegarty, the middle child in an Irish-Catholic family of nine, traces the aftermath of a tragedy that has claimed the life of rebellious elder brother Liam. As Veronica travels to London to bring Liam's body back to Dublin, her deep-seated resentment toward her overly passive mother and her dissatisfaction with her husband and children come to the fore. Tempers flare as the family assembles for Liam's wake, and a secret Veronica has concealed since childhood comes to light. Enright skillfully avoids sentimentality as she explores Veronica's past and her complicated relationship with Liam. She also bracingly imagines the life of Veronica's strong-willed grandmother, Ada. A melancholic love and rage bubbles just beneath the surface of this Dublin clan, and Enright explores it unflinchingly. (Sept.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
It seems that large, extended families are brought together for two events, weddings and funerals, and such is the case in Enright's new novel (after The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch) when Veronica, her eight surviving siblings, and their mammy reconnect for her wayward brother Liam's funeral. As Veronica notes early on, "the seeds of my brother's death were sown many years ago," and it is those seeds, which are gradually unearthed as the book moves between past and present, describing the deconstruction of the family, that drove Liam to suicide. From a description of vodka with a "sweet and crotch-like" smell that includes a "waft of earth and adolescence" to souls that, if released, would "slop out over his teeth," Enright's writing is starkly descriptive, using the same coarse imagery that is part of her characters' daily lives. Much is raw in this novel, which is less about individuals than about people's "patience and ability to endure." While readers won't be drawn to the characters, anyone who perseveres will find a story of harsh redemption and of a future found in a child's blue eyes. An acquired taste; recommended for larger and more diverse collections.-Caroline M. Hallsworth, City of Greater Sudbury, Ont. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.