Anne Enright achieved prominence by winning last year’s Man Booker Prize for her novel The Gathering. Her previous fiction includes three novels and a collection of short stories, The Portable Virgin, which won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Her first work of non-fiction, Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood, was published in 2004. All these books have attracted favourable notice, with reviewers praising her imagination and intelligence, her (frequently black) humour, and her scintillating use of language. Enright achieved additional notoriety in 2007 for her essay, ‘Disliking the McCanns’, published in the London Review of Books, in which she confessed to sharing the nation’s ambivalence towards those all-too-publicly bereft parents. Her new book is a collection of short stories, perhaps rushed out by her publishers to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated by her recent prize.
There is, however, nothing rushed about the stories, several of which have already appeared in print or been broadcast on radio. What is striking, given that this is an apparently disparate collection, written at different times and for varied audiences, is its coherence. With the exception of ‘Wife’, all the