Anne Enright on Edna O’Brien: Girl captures what it is to be vulnerable, female and young

Book review: moving portrayal of the Boko Haram kidnappings

Boko Haram: a 12-year-old girl fleeing an insurgency. Photograph: Fati Abubakar/Getty

Boko Haram: a 12-year-old girl fleeing an insurgency. Photograph: Fati Abubakar/Getty

“I don’t want to hear about your little life, okay?” This is what the late, great Toni Morrison used to tell her writing students, on the grounds, perhaps, that the world is a big place and the mirror a small one. Morrison believed it was important to make stories because stories enlarge humanity’s understanding of itself. “Narrative is radical,” she wrote, “creating us at the very moment it is being created.”

Edna O’Brien’s own life has been very far from “little”, and she has already written much of it down. At 88, the moment for memoir is in the past. She has come out the other side of her own story, perhaps and the world has opened up again. With the grand freedom of a late style, she has taken a remarkable new departure.

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