Arts, Culture & Media

Booker Prize preview

(Let's talk about �The Secret Scripture.� The character here is interesting: an 100 year old woman and she is a resident in a mental hospital. It's about to be closed down. Not your typical heroine or setting.) It's remarkable. The set up is, a psychiatrist is assessed to find out whether she should be released to society, if she's well. So they have to find out why she was committed in the first place and to do that we get the whole history of modern Ireland. We get it from two perspectives: the woman's and also the psychiatrist. The questions they raise about her past circulate around each other. (The main character also represents the many women who disappeared to mental asylums in Ireland because of some breach of convention. This is a mystery of a novel.) Yes, she was sequestered away because of a mystery which is eventually resolved, and that resolution makes you feel like her life was taken away. (The second pick is a new collection from Anne Enright. This is about recognizing more modern Irish heroines.) These women share commonalities in that they're imprisoned by their own desires. They're ordinary people trying to make do who have their own lapses and then have to deal with that. (What does this say about the trajectory of the modern woman?) The first novel is long and unfurls over a long period of time. The other is a collection of very short stories and the collection of them tells you what Ireland is like.

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