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Anne Enright

The Booker-winning Irish novelist on her first visit to India for the Jaipur litfest

Anne Enright
Anne Enright

Of all the litfests across the world, why did you decide on Jaipur?

Because India is the most exciting place to be now, in literary terms. And I’m looking forward to meeting Indian writers at the festival.

What’s common to Indian and Irish writers?

With Indian and Irish writers winning the Booker in successive years, there’s almost a sense of friendly competition between us.

And is there a big difference between the Indian and Irish traditions of narrative?

Broadly, the Irish tradition is very involved in the individual voice whereas the Indian tradition seems to be more about culture.

Why is the Booker so important in the world of literature?

It’s a triumph of marketing—they do a lot to promote the prize-winning author. But unlike other lit prizes, it’s so simple—the only literary prize for a book in English in one year.

How important is a literary prize to a writer?

All prizes—I won’t say silly—but don’t reflect the world of writing: sitting in rooms alone, for three to four years working on a book.

How has the Booker changed you, the writer?

For a year after that, the world was very noisy. Now I am back to the silence and can examine it to see if it has changed.

And has it?

Except for wondering how my next book will be received, the challenge of moving from page to page remains. The Booker changes the world, not you.

You’ve written a book on motherhood.

I looked at the cliches about motherhood and found them true only up to a point.

Does motherhood distract you from writing?

Your mental time is taken up with petty things. It’s difficult, but leaves you delighted.

In other words, like writing?

It’s a good analogy but you can never find a book more interesting or exciting than a child.

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