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Booker Prize 2007: Anne Enright wins

Anne Enright, The Gathering

Story by Jack Foley

IRISH author Anne Enright has stunned the literary world by winning this year’s Man Booker Prize (2007), one of the most prestigious awards in literature.

Family saga The Gathering beat bookies’ favourites Ian McEwan and Lloyd Jones to be named the best novel of the past 12 months.

The novel tells the story of an Irish woman who is prompted by her brother’s suicide to revisit three generations of her dysfunctional family’s history.

It is the fourth novel from the 45-year-old former television producer.

Announcing the £50,000 award, Sir Howard Davies, chairman of the judges, described The Gathering as “powerful, uncomfortable and, at times, angry”.

“It’s an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language,” he continued. “We think she is an impressive novelist, we expect to hear a lot more from her.

“The book is powerful, it pulls you along and it has an absolutely brilliant ending. It has one of the best last sentences of any novel I have ever read.”

Incredibly, Enright was widely considered to be an outsider for the award and immediately expressed surprise and disbelief at the award.

And commenting on Sir Howard’s description of her novel as “depressing” and “a little bleak” in places – said agreed, saying: “I love them – they’re entirely fair but it’s not a cheerful book.”

She then told BBC Radio 4 that she may well spend her prize money on a new kitchen!

Enright’s previous novels include the Whitbread-nominated What Are You Like? in 2000 and Making Babies, her light-hearted diaries of motherhood.

The Gathering has sold 3,000 copies so far, but is expected to sell many more now that it has landed one of literature’s top prizes.

The Booker award honours the best fiction written in English by an author from the UK, Ireland or the Commonwealth. It was handed out at the Guildhall in London on Tuesday (October 16, 2007).

Other authors on this year’s shortlist were Mohsin Hamid, Nicola Barker and Indra Sinha.