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Anne Enright says Booker Prize victory ‘made her male rivals unhappy’

The Irish writer has appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

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Anne Enright won the 2007 Booker Prize (Samantha Johnston/BBC/PA)

Anne Enright won the 2007 Booker Prize (Samantha Johnston/BBC/PA)

Anne Enright won the 2007 Booker Prize (Samantha Johnston/BBC/PA)

Irish novelist Anne Enright has said that her Booker Prize victory made some of the men who missed out on the award “unhappy”.

Enright was named as the winner of the literary award in 2007 with her fourth novel The Gathering.

During an appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, she said her victory did not please everyone.

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(Ben Stansall/PA)

(Ben Stansall/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

(Ben Stansall/PA)

Enright told host Lauren Laverne: “Particularly, it has to be said, the guys were made unhappy.

“I think it is true that if a woman does well, then men can be sort of somehow personally insulted by their success, even though it is not really about them at all.

“It was something you had done to them.”

She said the award did not affect her “at all for a while”, but it seemed to affect some of those around her in an “alarming way”.

She said she became the “centre of a lot of publishing agitations” as a result of her victory.

Enright also discussed being made the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction in 2015, saying it was “really moving to be somehow chosen” for the role.

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(Antony Devlin/PA)

(Antony Devlin/PA)

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(Antony Devlin/PA)

“I took on the gender thing with great reluctance because I wanted to be a writer, which is very important to be, and not a woman, which is a slightly less important thing to be.

“Much against my better judgment, I dug into the issue of gender and the canon.”

She added there was an “astonishing gender imbalance” in Irish reviewing culture and a “huge amount of unconscious bias in the literary scene”.

While women are “very happy to admire men”, she said, “men find it very, very hard to admire women”.

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The Gathering was her fourth novel (Lewis Whyld/PA)

The Gathering was her fourth novel (Lewis Whyld/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

The Gathering was her fourth novel (Lewis Whyld/PA)

She added that her time in the role coincided with an “absolute explosion” in literature written by Irish women.

“By the time I’d said it there was no need to prove it and the walls had all been tumbling down,” she said.

She added that it now feels “less lonely” in Irish fiction.

It was “fantastic” to see female writers hitting new heights, Enright said.

Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds on Sunday at 11.15am.

PA