By Anne Enright
320 pages; Grove
The Irish writer Anne Enright was a well-kept secret for years—much admired by those who'd stumbled upon her work but little known outside that slim fan base—until she won the Man Booker Prize last year and became famous for her compelling but savagely dark take on the world. Her latest collection, Yesterday's Weather (Grove), is sure to add to her accolades, and it should also add nuance to her perceived bleakness. These stories, written over the course of 20 years, are astonishing: moving, emotionally acute, sly, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. Her depiction of the humdrum satisfactions of married life, the tensions in old friendships, the childhood rivalry that will not die, are pitch-perfect and set against the recent rapid changes in Irish life. Enright completely inhabits these characters, and somehow conveys empathy for their frustrations and limitations without a tinge of sentimentality. The opening of "Until the Girl Died" illustrates her ability to surprise and provoke: "The girl died. Well, what was that to me? ... She died the stupid way that people do—in a car crash." Beneath this bluster, Enright reveals a couple who can't get beyond the husband's "little" indiscretion with a young woman from his office who has just died in an accident. It's Enright at her best—crafting a superbly satisfying story that peels back layers of denial and history to reach a stark truth.