Behind the Curtain in Anne Enright’s Actress

Booker Prize-winning author and Ireland’s First Fiction Laureate Anne Enright comes to the Loft for an intimate discussion of her latest novel Actress.

Hailed as “intoxicating” by The New York Times and rich with “boundless emotional intelligence” (The Guardian), Actress explores the relationship between a daughter and her mother, and an actress and the divisiveness of fame— all against the tumultuous backdrop of 20th century Ireland during The Troubles.

Through deeply attentive and quick-witted prose, Enright tells of Norah, a middle-aged writer, as she looks back on the life of her now-dead mother, a famous Irish actress, Katherine O’Dell. It is a story that draws back the curtain and lifts the house lights, so to speak, on fame as Norah tries to etch out a portrait of her mother through her early successes on the stage, her dead-end run in Hollywood, and her long struggle to remain relevant. And through the lens of Norah, the reader is left with an essential question of what it means to be an artist, to perform for others, and the consequences of when that identity blurs into everyday life.

While the book is full of drama, it is, at its heart, a page-turning examination of the relationship between a mother and a daughter, a relationship that is at times tender and sobering and at other times deeply embarrassing. But what makes Enright such a unique storyteller is her ability to weave her narratives with empathy, complexity, and love, void of any cliche or overt sentimentality. Or perhaps more simply put by The Washington Post: “Anne Enright writes so well that she might ruin you for anyone else.”

I hope you will join us for this wonderful conversation on March 11.