A Book Review That Is Really A Commentary : The Man Booker Prize

From The Economist, week of Oct. 20 – 26, 2007:

A review of the Anne Enright novel, The Gathering

In 2004 the judges of the Man Booker prize passed up the chance to honour the sprawling, drunken family as one of the finest pieces of theatre that literature has to offer when it picked Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty over Gerard Woodward’s I’ll Go To Bed at Noon. This week a new panel unexpectedly gave fiction’s best-known award to Anne Enright for The Gathering, a raw examination of a family (Irish, of course) made up of 12 children, seven miscarriages and more than a lifetime of drink, masturbation and misery.

In making their choice, the judges turned their backs on three more interesting offerings: Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach, one of the year’s biggest sellers; Mohsin Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a fine examination of America’s fear of Islam; and an engaging and original study of the power that literature has to change lives irrevocably (Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pin).

Not that The Gathering is without its strengths. Ms. Enright, the fourth Irish writer to win the prize, is a 45-year-old Dubliner who has written three previous novels, short stories, and a work of non-fiction. She has a fine writing voice and is good at melding raw anger with an original and funny turn of phrase.

At the start of the book, the by-now adult Hegarty children descend on the Irish family home after one of their brothers, Liam, drowns himself in Brighton, having first taken care to remove his dirty socks and underpants, and fill his pockets with stones. In their grief, his siblings look more intently at their past.

Inevitably the family includes one good sister and one bad, a fallen priest and a rich brother who tries to keep his distance from the mess. There are stories of shared beds (probable with 12 children in the house) and a lot of sex. It is this sexual tension, or the tension of unrepressed male lust to be specific, that fuels the book’s anger and drives forward the narrative.

But in the end there is only so much to be learned about fumbling priapic landlords an the stale smell of liquor. For a book that leads with the heart or the brain, rather than the penis, try one of the others on the shortlist instead.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

John's Space .....

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Asian Cultural Experience

Preserving the history and legacy of Salinas Chinatown

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through style and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery


Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog


Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other

Random Storyteller

A crazy quilt of poems, stories, and humor by Catherine Hamrick

%d bloggers like this: