The Gathering by Irish author Anne Enright was the 2007 winner of the Man Booker Prize. Reading the book eight years after, I’m a little late to the game, but I figured I was in for some elegant prose and maybe a few out of date pop culture references. What I was really in for, it turns out, was a huge surprise.
There’s no doubt about Anne Enright’s talent as a writer. Her words evoke imagery that is both beautiful and grotesque. But that’s pretty much the sum of my understanding of this book – I get the words, but not the point. This is one of those books that you either love or hate.
The narrator of the book is unsure of anything. She takes the reader on a ride, tells us it didn’t really happen, then that it might have happened, then that it probably didn’t, and on and on, one instance after another. This seems to be the character’s way of working through some psychological mayhem that she is experiencing; but then again, it may not be. It may be, but probably not. And on and on.
At the end of the novel, I was left wondering what I had just read. Which is the way some people like their books, written along the delicate line where literature crosses the line into art, subject to each individual’s interpretation. Which I guess explains how 39 chapters of semi-sensical musings on death, sex and religion equate a prestigious literary award.