Anne Enright What Are You Like?: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780871138163

What Are You Like?: A Novel

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9780871138163: What Are You Like?: A Novel
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Raised by her grieving father after her mother dies in childbirth, twenty-year-old Maria finds herself coping with a nameless longing and falling in love with the wrong man, until a preciously unseen photograph sends her home to Ireland to unravel a secret that could change her life forever. 35,000 first printing. $40,000 ad/promo.

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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

From the Inside Flap:

Anne Enright is one of Ireland's most exciting new writers, a beguiling storyteller of warm humor and wry lyricism. Here she gives us her American debut, a novel of the fierce bonds of origin and the connections and disjunctions of family that will establish her as a wise, fresh voice in fiction.

At the beginning of What Are You Like? Berts, a new father, simultaneously struggles to love his baby daughter while mourning the wife who died giving her life. Raised in the shadow of his quiet grief, Maria finds herself at twenty in New York City, awash in nameless longing and falling in love with the wrong sort of man. Going through her lover's things, she finds a photograph of herself aged twelve, in clothes she's never worn, a place she's never been. It will send her home to Ireland, to the slow unraveling of a secret that may prove more devastating than Berts's long sadness, but more pregnant with possibility. Moving between Dublin, New York, and London, What Are You Like? is the story of a woman haunted by her missing self. Troubling and hilarious, it posits an unforgettable chaos theory of family, of daughters sent out into a world that is altered forever by their leaving, and of our helplessness nonetheless against our fierce connections to our homes and the people who give us life.

"This book is so sad that you want to laugh out loud. It deals with areas of experience and patterns of living that no one else has noticed. As Dylan Thomas said about At Swim-Two-Birds, 'If you sister is a big loud boozy girl, then give her this book.'"--Colm Toibin

"A spry surrealist who challenges the world with extraordinary, lancing sentences...Enright captures something subterranean with a strange flick of her marvelous insight."--James Wood, The Guardian (London)

"What is Anne Enright like? Flann O'Brien, yes, Tristram Shandy, a little, or Jonathan Swift meeting Kurt Vonnegut.... She whispers from inside her characters' minds, describing confusion, and the half-realized state of things which pass before their eyes.... Writing that wants to be read out loud, encounters that hover on the edge of revelations, and an excitement that fiction was once supposed to deliver. What is a really good novel like? This, for a start."--Aisling Foster, The Times (London)

"An eloquent writer...dazzlingly funny.... For Enright the recognizable dimensions of time, speech, and thought...are fluid and interchangeable, while metaphors often become the things they stand for.... [A] very powerful story."--Penelope Fitzgerald, The London Review of Books

Anne Enright lives and works in Dublin. In the United Kingdom, she has also published one collection of stories, The Portable Virgin, and a previous novel, The Wig My Father Wore. She is also a broadcast journalist, presenting pieces for BBC Radio 4.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780802138897: What Are You Like?: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0802138896 ISBN 13:  9780802138897
Publisher: Grove Press, 2002
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9780099284345: What Are You Like?

Vintag..., 2001
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9780224060639: What Are You Like? (a Jonathan Cape Original)

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