Exclusive interview with Booker Prize winner Irish author Anne Enright


At all times Enright looks at Ireland through a modern, urban perspective that has eluded almost every other contemporary Irish writer. Her characters don’t agonize over their national identity, they simply belong to their city and suburb and the wider European continent in which they make their careers.

“Gina does mention the north when she’s driving up the M1,” says Enright, agreeing that grappling with her Irish identity is a complete non-starter for Gina.

“She mentions at one point that it’s not her favorite road in Ireland because it’s too straight and too flat. But she also mentions that she always loves the way the clouds gather over the Mourne Mountains, which she calls the gateway to the black north. There be weather, she tells herself, laughing.

“So the Irish identity thing is not something she thinks about. She’s a middle class Dubliner, her father was a solicitor and a drunk.  And although I don’t mention this in the book, a Fianna Fail handler delivered the flowers that were sent to his funeral.

“My husband is much more party politically interested than I am. I just think that the local Irish story in economic terms has been a global story too. Ireland has been a canary in the coal mine when it comes to economic melt down.”

Although she doesn’t address it directly, in the book what happened to the world economy in September 2008 has had such a strong affect on Irish people’s lives that it went far beyond our democratic reach.

“How you voted or what country you were in did not make a blind bit of difference -- well, if you were in Germany that probably helps. But it wasn’t a problem of national identity. We could have done it all better God knows, but I’m not bitter,” she says with a bitter laugh.

The fierce little tragedy in which Gina (and in a way Ireland) play their parts in The Forgotten Waltz, and the speed with which her life changes due to it astonishes her.

“I just can't believe it,” she writes. “That all you have to do is sleep with somebody and get caught and you never have to see your in-laws again. Ever. Pfffft! Gone. It’s the nearest thing to magic I have yet found.”

Enright’s book is filled with such observations, and although The Forgotten Waltz wears its ambitions very lightly, the cumulative effect is dazzling. It will become a classic.