In praise of Anne Enright, by Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Celebrating Irish women writers: ‘She writes a kind of Irishness that is close to the bone: honest, hilarious, melancholic and a little bit painful to read. She is particularly good on women’s lives and thought processes’

Anne Enright rings home to give her husband the news that she had just been awarded the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2004. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Anne Enright rings home to give her husband the news that she had just been awarded the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2004. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Anne Enright is one of the writers who made me want to write well. I read her short story collection The Portable Virgin early on as a writer and thought, “I’m allowed write about Irish women and be wicked, funny and literary all at the same time? Great!”

She writes a kind of Irishness that is close to the bone: honest, hilarious, melancholic and a little bit painful to read. She is particularly good on women’s lives and thought processes. I love her non-fiction book on childbirth and motherhood Making Babies – it offers a fresh, forthright perspective on the confusing business of pregnancy and children. Equally, I enjoyed The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch, Enright’s historical novel based on a real Irish woman who went to Paraguay as the lover of a dictator. It’s bawdy, sensuous, full of gorgeous detail, and told in Enright’s stylised, audacious prose.

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