Paperback: The Gathering, by Anne Enright

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The first-person account of three generations of a dysfunctional Irish family gathering for the wake of a once beautiful, alcoholic brother should be as depressing as the pundits predicted. However, Enright's fourth novel, and the surprise winner of 2007's Man Booker, is an unexpected pleasure. Ditching the surreal flights of fancy that marked out her previous fiction, Enright's humane, funny and often magisterial novel describes a recognisable world where sex and death have the last laugh, and where "every choice is an error, as soon as it is made." The subject matter is dark, but Enright knows how to throw light on lives that teeter between the sacred and the profane.