‘I rewrite constantly’

Love and its difficulties have always fascinated Man Booker prize-winner Anne Enright.

Written by Alaka Sahani | New Delhi | Published:October 28, 2014 12:13 pm

Multiple trips to India to participate in literature festivals — post her Man Booker Prize win in 2007 for The Gathering — have made Irish author Anne Enright familiar with the Indian literary circuit. “Travelling to places such as Delhi, Jaipur, Goa and Mumbai has given me a sense of this huge country. What I find most fascinating is that Indians are deeply engaged with literature,” says the 52-year-old, who will visit Mumbai this week to attend the Tata Literature Live!. During the three-day event, she will take part in two panel discussions.

Enright’s writings are famous for their inherent Irishness. “This is natural as I grew up in Ireland and I live there with my family,” she explains, adding, “You may live in a certain place but as a writer, you hope your books travel.” Her wish came true after winning the Man Booker. Her novels had always enjoyed an impressive readership in the UK, USA and Australia — countries with a large Irish population. However, after 2007, her audience has widened. “Novels are a wonderful way of connecting with people. The prize has pushed my writings to the world and created a huge interest in them,”she adds.

Even though the politics of Ireland and social conditions often feature in her work, she believes her writing is overwhelmingly about relationships and family. “I write about love and the difficulties of love. The values are changing in Ireland as well as other countries. My books talk about that,” says the author who started writing at the age of 21 after being gifted an electric typewriter by her parents. The Gathering is a witty and insightful family epic that unfolds at a funeral.

Her latest, The Forgotten Waltz, looks at adultery from a woman’s perspective.

Enright recently wrapped up her next novel that is scheduled to release in May 2015. For this, she has adopted a very different approach. The story is narrated from the point of view of each of its characters. At the heart of the novel is a mother of four. Her children, in their 40s and living in different parts of the world, return to confront their past and strained relationships. “I lost several novels while trying to
write this one. Each of its characters can own a novel,” says Enright. She had to resist the temptation of writing their stories in detail in order to shape the novel right. Still, she believes that nothing in wasted. “Maybe their stories will return in another form,” she says.

Obsessed with revising her text, Enright says, “I constantly rewrite. This gives the writing a finesse.” Yet, there are times when she finds the process of writing a novel very slow. That’s when she takes a break from it and engages in writing non-fiction, especially essays.
“When a novel doesn’t progress, I choose to walk away from it. That gives me the opportunity to do something completely different, such as exploring non-fiction. Earlier, this would also fetch me the money that I needed to support my fiction writing,” she says.

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