About The Author
Born in Dublin, where she still lives, Anne Enright began writing in earnest when given a typewriter for her twenty-first birthday. She graduated with a degree in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin, before obtaining an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia.
She worked as a television producer and director for six years, before moving on to children's programming, which allowed her to write at the weekends.
She published her first novel, The Wig My Father Wore, in 1996. Her second novel, What Are You Like?, was published in 2000 and was shortlisted for the Whibread Novel Award. This was followed by The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch in 2002 and a collection of essays about childbirth and motherhood called Making Babies in 2004.
Up to this point, she had received much critical acclaim but relatively few sales, but this was to change when her fourth novel, The Gathering, won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, triumphing over the favourite, Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach.
She has subsequently published a book of short stories, Taking Pictures; in paperback, this was packaged with some of her earlier work and retitled Yesterday's Weather. She also edited The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story.
Her latest novel is The Forgotten Waltz , a book about love, loss, longing and desire, which charts the story of an adulterous affair and its consequences. Here, she talks about unreliable narrators, Madame Bovary and the financial crisis.
Questions & Answers
Gina describes Sean as the love of her life yet she is also quite repulsed by him at times. This isn't the normal representation of 'love is blind' infatuation. Do you think this apparent frankness makes the reader more or less likely to condemn her?
She is slightly repulsed by him the way she might be of any one night stand. I want the reader to enjoy Gina and, yes, enjoy her frankness. Whether we applaud her actions (or motives) is a different question. I am not sure whether we should condemn.
You play with the concept of hindsight in the novel and yet it doesn't seem as if Gina would have done anything differently. What are the challenges of writing in the voice of an unreliable narrator?
There is a 'destined' sense to falling in love that makes it hard to do otherwise. Gina is thinking about her fate in life, but it is difficult for her to see how she might have ended up elsewhere. Her unreliability is slightly different question: she is the kind of woman who realises what she is really saying only after she has said it. She is making a version of her story for us and for herself. We don't know if it is an entirely truthful version.
It was a very brave decision to reveal most of the facts of the novel in the first few pages; do you feel this left you freer to explore Gina's psychological landscape?
The facts are the least of any story.
There's a profound sense of loss in this novel - of innocence; parents; childhood and money - and a strong strand of nostalgia, reinforced by the book's song-title chapter headings. Is loss somehow at the root of what drives Gina?
It is the loss of her mother that Gina feels most, and also the loss of her dizzy infatuation for Seán. Real love is for grown ups. Who wants that?
Gina doesn't achieve the comeuppance of the conventional fictional adulteress and yet she remains an outsider - in particular in Sean and his daughter Evie's relationship. Even though the degree of insight we are given into her character makes it hard to judge her, was it important not to have a neat happy ending?
Life rarely gives us neat. It is the contradictions I love.
What do you think of the comparisons some reviewers have made with Madame Bovary? Did you have this or any other classic story in mind at all, while writing your book?
Yes, I looked at the classic accounts of female adultery before I wrote my own. My heroine does not have to die because she has transgressed. I thought that was a step forward.
How significant was the setting at the time of the financial crisis?
I was so saddened by what happened to Ireland after the crash. It was impossible to escape it, as a writer, and it is everywhere in The Forgotten Waltz.
You're no stranger to literary prizes, and now The Forgotten Waltz has been longlisted for the Orange Prize. Does having won the Booker (for The Gathering) enable you to be more relaxed about other nominations - or doesn't it work like that?!
Well, you know, life is not a race for the prize. It never was, for me.
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