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What Are You Like?

What Are You Like? by Anne Enright
9 reviews (2000) (272p) Best Books

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Book Description
Anne Enright is one of the most exciting writers of Ireland's younger generation, a beguiling storyteller The Seattle Times has praised for "the ... way she writes about women ...their adventures to know who they are through sex, despair, wit and single-minded courage." In What Are You Like?, Maria Delahunty, raised by her grieving father after her mother died during childbirth, finds herself in her twenties awash in nameless longing and in love with the wrong man. Going through his things, she finds a photograph that will end up unraveling a secret more devastating than her father's long mourning, but more pregnant with possibility. Moving between Dublin, New York, and London, What Are You Like? is a breathtaking novel of twins and irretrievable losses, of a woman haunted by her missing self, and of our helplessness against our fierce connection to our origins. What Are You Like? has been selected as a finalist for the Whitbread Award. It is a novel, Newsday wrote, that "announces [Enright's] excellence as though it were stamped on the cover in boldface." "Richly descriptive ... Slightly surreal, revelatory images are hallmarks of Enright's writing, which beguiles throughout." -- Melanie Rehak, US Weekly "Cool, wicked, and quintessentially Irish ... Anne Enright tells a sharp, stylish tale in an accent all her own." -- Annabel Lyon, The National Post (Toronto) Review
Some novels you nibble away at, half unthinking. Anne Enright's prose bites back. The Irish author of The Portable Virgin and The Wig My Father Wore has produced a third book as unexpected and lively as a miracle child--or is it twins? She tells the story of a Dubliner whose mother died in childbirth. Maria is now 20, living in New York, cleaning houses, taking drugs, sleeping with strangers, and generally being in a funk. In a lover's bag, she finds an old photo of a girl who looks just exactly like herself, dressed in clothes she's never owned, posing with people she's never met. But this isn't some gooey, alternate-reality identity fantasy. Maria has, in fact, a twin sister. Though each is unknown to the other, we learn both their lives inside out as they head toward a giddily inevitable meeting.

This twinning tale suits Enright's style right down to the ground: Her mandate is to bump us into awareness, and if it takes double heroines, so be it. Her language does the rest of the work. On the very first page, for instance, she freshens the simple act of holding a baby into a joke: "And they handed her on from arm to arm, with the dip that people make when they give away a baby--letting her body go and guiding her head, as though it might not be attached. Nothing worse than being left holding the baby, they seemed to say, except being left with the baby's head." In fact, Enright is transfixed by the weirdness of the body, as when Maria visits a dairy farm: "She is too old to dip her fingers in the milk and let the calves suck. Though when she does, a feeling she has never had before goes straight up her arm and into her right nipple. Hello, farming." Enright writes fiction meant to surprise. But her message is surprisingly traditional: biology matters. --Claire Dederer

Other Award Winning Books by Anne Enright
The Green Road by Anne Enright
254 reviews (2015) (385p) (PW Fiction) (LATimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
51 reviews (2011) (p) (Amazon Top100) (Kirkus Top25) (New Yorker)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page
The Gathering by Anne Enright
182 reviews (2007) (272p) (Booker) (Amazon)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's page

Anne Enright Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 1 The Gathering ·  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 1 The Gathering ·  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 0  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award


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