Before winning the Man Booker Prize, Enright had a low profile in Ireland and the United Kingdom, although her books were favourably reviewed and widely praised. Her writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland's difficult past and its modern zeitgeist.
Enright was a television producer and director for RTÉ in Dublin for six years and produced the RTÉ programme Nighthawks for four years. She then worked in children's programming for two years and wrote on weekends. Enright began writing full-time in 1993. Her full-time career as a writer came about when she left television due to a breakdown, later remarking: "I recommend it [...] having a breakdown early. If your life just falls apart early on, you can put it together again. It's the people who are always on the brink of crisis who don't hit bottom who are in trouble."
Enright's early work has often been compared by critics to that of Flann O'Brien.The Portable Virgin, a collection of her short stories, was published in 1991. Angela Carter called it "elegant, scrupulously poised, always intelligent and, not least, original."
Enright's first novel, The Wig My Father Wore, was published in 1995. The book explores themes such as love, motherhood, Roman Catholicism, and sex. The narrator of the novel is Grace, who lives in Dublin and works for a tacky game show. Her father wears a wig that cannot be spoken of in front of him. An angel called Stephen who committed suicide in 1934 and has come back to earth to guide lost souls moves into Grace's home and she falls in love with him.
Enright's next novel, What Are You Like? (2000), is about twin girls called Marie and Maria who are separated at birth and raised apart from each other in Dublin and London. It looks at tensions and ironies between family members. It was short-listed in the novel category of the Whitbread Awards.The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch (2002) is a fictionalised account of the life of Eliza Lynch, an Irish woman who was the consort of ParaguayanpresidentFrancisco Solano López and became Paraguay's most powerful woman in the 19th century. Her book Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood (2004) is a collection of candid and humorous essays about childbirth and motherhood. Enright's fourth novel, The Gathering, was published in 2007.
In 2011, the Irish Academic Press published a collection of essays on Enright's work, edited by Claire Bracken and Susan Cahill. Her work is discussed and illustrated in the video 'Reading Ireland, '