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Old 10-08-2017, 10:47 AM   #1
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The Gathering by Anne Enright

'Anne Enright is a dazzling writer of international stature and one of Ireland’s most singular voices. Now she delivers The Gathering, a moving, evocative portrait of a large Irish family and a shot of fresh blood into the Irish literary tradition, combining the lyricism of the old with the shock of the new.

The nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan are gathering in Dublin for the wake of their wayward brother, Liam, drowned in the sea. His sister, Veronica, collects the body and keeps the dead man company, guarding the secret she shares with him—something that happened in their grandmother’s house in the winter of 1968. As Enright traces the line of betrayal and redemption through three generations her distinctive intelligence twists the world a fraction and gives it back to us in a new and unforgettable light. The Gathering is a daring, witty, and insightful family epic, clarified through Anne Enright’s unblinking eye. It is a novel about love and disappointment, about how memories warp and secrets fester, and how fate is written in the body, not in the stars.'

The Gathering is the winner of the 2007 Man Booker Prize and was chosen unanimously by the jury.


This is the MR Literary Club selection for October 2017. Whether you've already read it or would like to, feel free to start or join in the conversation at any time, and guests are always welcome! So, what are your thoughts on it?

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Old 10-08-2017, 03:19 PM   #2
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I didn't realize the book was unanimously chosen for the Man Booker Prize. I was curious what the other books were that year. Here is the shortlist:

Darkmans by Nicola Barker (4th Estate)
The Gathering by Anne Enright (Jonathan Cape); U.S.: Grove/Black Cat (September 2007)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton); U.S.: Harcourt
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (John Murray); U.S.: Dial
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape); U.S.: Talese/Doubleday
Animal’s People by Indra Sinha (Simon & Schuster); U.S.: S&S
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Old 10-17-2017, 02:37 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, I am very disappointed in this book. Yes, it has the occasionally sensitive insight but just as often the prose descends into a crass vulgarity that I intensely dislike. I lived through the period she describes and while we now realise some of the terrible things that happened, everyone wasn't stupidly insensitive and wound up on an obsession with genitalia. I knew plenty of large families and they were generally happy and emotionally balanced. As to the narrator, I couldn't relate to her at all.

On the other hand, consider Tirra Lirra by the River-- a book with some broad similarities to The Gathering. There is a woman meditating on her past and a community with a dark secret. Jessica Anderson's main character was no angel but she was subtle, had an inner dignity, and I did sympathise with her. The novel itself had a coherence of tone conveyed with great skill and I felt it was a far better work than The Gathering.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 10-17-2017 at 02:42 PM.
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