Thursday, 19 April 2012


Our own Anne Enright is on the shortlist for the Orange Prize for her novel The Forgotten Waltz. She talked about it on Arena on Tuesday night and she was her usual wry, honest self. She is touring the book in the USA at the moment and she spoke about the difference between American and Irish audiences:

'The American audience can be quite intense. They are a very receptive and enthusiastic audience.' Presenter Seán Rocks asked her to expand on this, wondering about the differences between audiences. Anne said: 'The Irish audience knows you and wouldn’t want to annoy you with any intensities. The Irish are more relaxed.' This is true, I feel. Though Germany was about the (in)tensest place that I have read. Still, they all came up afterwards and bought the book. Irish people often say they loved your reading but don't buy the book...

She said of the Orange shortlisting: 'It’s a lovely validation and a great fillip for the book. Publishing is very nervous at the moment; literary fiction is on the back foot and anything that stirs the mix again and gets books out there into the public arena is good by me.' Hear hear.

Seán asked about her thoughts on the Orange being a women-only prize. Anne said, quite rightly: 'Statistics show that women’s writing is under-represented in the important media. The Orange Prize redresses the balance.' She cited Vida which measures the reviews/exposure in the media of women’s writing and said that the statistics speak for themselves. I love when a writer I admire gets involved in this debate.

She also said, with reference to the shortlist, which features three American writers (Patchett, Miller and Ozick): ‘American’s women fiction is so strikingly good.’ I feel that too, particularly about short story writers: a few that immediately spring to mind are Amy Bloom, Caitlin Horrocks, ZZ Packer and Valerie Trueblood.

Speaking of Valerie Trueblood, I'm pleased that an essay I wrote about her and her writing has made the shortlist of the Thresholds Feature Writing Competition. There's a shortlist of ten. It seems all ten may be published regardless of who is the overall winner. If that's the case I will link to here when my essay is featured.


Kar said...

Thanks for sharing this Nu, I must see can I listen back to the interview.

Thrilled with Anne's back-up to the Orange women-only prize debate. G’wan the Anne! no better women for the job!

I think she’s also been short listed for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the year.

And Congrats to you my friend, I love Valerie Trueblood and I’m dying to read your essay :)

dan powell said...

Just listened, yesterday, to Anne Enright talking about The Gathering on the Book Club podcast. She talks so openly about her work and without pretentions. I love the way she talks about creating character and assembling narrative. A very cool lady in interview.

Congrats on making the shortlist with your essay. Fingers crossed for you.

Words A Day said...

I was very interested to hear her describe american women writers as 'unapologetic', would love to hear more about this from made me wonder, who then is apologetic? And did she mean Irish women writers?
I agree with the Orange prize and the need for it but also hate the term women writers as much as I do women-doctor or lady-driver.
Must check out Vida.


Cheers, Kar - yes, she's up for the Kerry too.

Dan - She speaks very well about her own work. She can be cryptic at times but she always has interesting things to say.

Niamh - I'm guessing she means they are not afraid of the raw and the strange.

I'd never equate 'women writers' as a term with a term like 'lady-doctor' which I think is derogatorily used (reductive). I don't see 'women writers' as the same thing. More celebratory. The sisterhood!

Eilis Ni Dhuibhne said...

Really pleased that Anne Enright mentioned VIDA and the recent statistics on prestigious reviews etc. This is generous given that she is so highly regarded, and is obviously objective about all this.


Yes, Éilís, it would be easier for her to stay away from such debates but, thankfully, she rows in.

Rachel Fenton said...

I think she's great - I really enjoyed the podcast in the gruniad.

I'm all at sea about women only prizes - I'd rather women just got represented in the mixed prizes...I think both arguments are right...but that's by the by -

Yay for Anne!