Monday, October 22, 2007

I happily spent a few hours on Saturday reading The Gathering by Anne Enright. So why did I rush out and buy the Booker Prize winner? I heard an interview with the author on Woman's Hour a day or so before the prize, and had a strong sense as I listened that she would be the winner. When the prize was announced (in a two minute item on News at Ten - what a ridiculous way to find out), she looked genuinely astounded, and press quotes later had her say "My boat has come in." I fully believe that neither she nor her publishers (her book was 'called in' which means Jonathan Cape entered two other titles they thought were more likely to be nominated) thought she would win.

It's a fairly grim read, a dysfunctional family with too many children who are mainly a list of names. The main plot events are seen through a key hole, so scarcely full of dramatic drum rolls and action. But the quality of the writing is fine, and her craft as a writer has been refined over several books. It's a triumph for both a writer, and a publishing house that brought out all her books, that she has won a major prize. After all, that is what prizes should be for - not to award the already famous, but to bring new writers to the attention of a host of readers.

I felt I had bought a book by a really worthy winner, someone who would enjoy the thought of every new reader as a genuine boon. So I also have a warm glow as I read - knowing if she had not won, there is hardly any chance that I would have been reading her book this weekend.

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