Anne Enright : Lyrical Words from The Green Road

I could almost be in Dublin right now. It’s 13 degrees and in the freezing rain I bike up to the beautiful Piano venue on Armagh Street, for the last event of the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season. Anne Enright, first Laureate for Irish Fiction, is here to talk about her book The Green Road.

Cover of The Green Road Winner of Irish Novel of the Year, The Green Road is a family saga, reminiscent of Jack Kerouac’s ‘Great American Novel,’ The Town and the City. Is this Enright’s Great Irish Novel? Well she did get her prize…

Family, says Enright, are a common focus in many of her novels. The Gathering, winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2007, is about a family of nine who reunite for a funeral. Other common themes are the drinking father, the difficult mother, and the death of a parent or sibling.

There’s nothing brings a family together like a good funeral.

Often splitting her stories between characters before gathering the threads back together, Enright insightfully examines different perspectives of a common experience or issue.

The Forgotten Waltz, (a lyrical story about a love affair), is more introverted. Both lyrical and ironically funny, it follows Gina as she navigates her way through an affair, and the death of her mother. Apparently it has long been illegal in Irish culture to talk in the first person: “It’s not about you…!”

Enright is part of a new canon of Irish writers who “write what they like”. She discovered women writers were overlooked in Ireland, and figured no-one would read her… so wrote for her own pleasure.

The landscape is a strong character too. Quietly dominating the prose at times, foreshadowing perhaps a storm to come in story:

“The sky was full of weather.” (The Green Road).

Enright felt she could not write about it at first but remembered a connection with the cliffs around County Clare.

Anne Enright looking like she’s about to say something (Photo by Ali Ng)

Enright is the first to say that she doesn’t want to be “abouty”. She means that she doesn’t want each book to be about the same theme, though issues do inspire her. The drinking father persona of Ireland, the difficult mother…

When asked what inspired the story for The Forgotten Waltz, I was blindsided by her answer: the economic boom and bust of Ireland… the dishonesty and financial fallout of the affair being a vehicle for Irish investment in a failing property market… So there you go.

Enright‘s narrative voice charms the reader from the first paragraph. After a week of reading The Forgotten Waltz, my mind was speaking in brogue. So it was a pleasure to hear her read Hannah’s trip along the Green road with her Da, and the dramatic scene around Holy Thursday dinner.

Her observations of human experience have been described as an unblinking eye. I see it more as winking. Like the Catholic Church, (nurturing, but subversive, ‘you can’t get out of it” she says,) her work is poignant, with the humour that comes along with the dramas of life.

Further information

Beyond the Green Road – an evening with Anne Enright

Well…. Christchurch, we are in for a treat!  Making the journey all the way from Ireland is Anne Enright, winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, Britain’s most prestigious literary award.

Dublin born writer Anne will be gracing us with her presence at the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season.

Anne Enright. Photo by Joe O'Shaugnessy. Image supplied.
Anne Enright. Photo by Joe O’Shaugnessy. Image supplied.

Anne Enright: Wednesday 17 May 6pm

CoverThe Gathering, Anne Enright’s fourth novel and winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize, centers around the nine children of a large Irish family who gather together for their brother’s funeral.  It starts off with the main character, Veronica Hegarty having a memory about something that she might have witnessed about her brother years ago in her grandmother’s house, problem is that she has no idea if it really did happen or not …

CoverHer latest novel, The Green Road (2015), won the Irish Novel of the Year.  It follows the lives of four adult children spread over three continents, each struggling to cope with their own lives as well as with their difficult mother who announces that she will be selling the family home. The self-absorbed children return to the small Irish town in Country Clare where they grew up, and are forced to confront the realities and complexities of their family situation.

Moving, humorous yet sad, Enright’s intriguing writing style has captured the attention of fans around the globe. She was recently named the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.

With her quick wit and fantastic sense of humour deeply engaging audiences worldwide, an evening with Anne Enright is one event you don’t want to miss!

Ali Ng

Six of the best – Ian Rankin, Anne Enright, and more top writers coming to Christchurch!

WORD Christchurch has joined forces with the Auckland Writers Festival to bring amazing authors to Christchurch in May.

The WORD Autumn Season, which runs from 14 to 17 May, features:

  • Bestselling Scottish crime novelist Ian Rankin;
  • Man Booker Prize-winning Irish novelist Anne Enright;
  • Highly-respected British historian and biographer A. N. Wilson, author of The Victorians;
  • Science writer James Gleick exploring the mysteries of time travel;
  • Novelist and Kiwi expat Stella Duffy, who is currently completing Ngaio Marsh’s unfinished novel Money in the Morgue;
  • Canadian storyteller Ivan Coyote, who was the breakout star of last year’s popular WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

WORD Christchurch Autumn Season

WORD Christchurch’s programme director Rachael King says:

The audience for our last festival increased by 50% on the previous festival, showing there is a real appetite for these thought-provoking events in Christchurch. We are thrilled to collaborate with the Auckland Writers Festival to be able to bring such high-calibre speakers to the city.

What should you do now?

  1. Have a good look at the programme of events on the WORD Christchurch website.
  2. Get your tickets now. If you buy tickets by 21 April, you do in the draw to win a 10-session pass to the Auckland Writers Festival, which runs 16 to 21 May.
    Another great option is the Autumn Season Pass – it costs $90 plus $3 booking fee and gets you into all six events. All season pass holders automatically also go in the draw to win books from all six writers, courtesy of UBS.
  3. Get reading these six writers – visit our page WORD Autumn Season and find their books in our collection. Or go to your local bookshop.

See you at the WORD Autumn season!