Now I know awards are by their nature deeply flawed. Ridiculous. Subjective. Pointless. Crash wins the Oscar over Brokeback Mountain. Geoffrey Rush in the regrettable Shine wins Best Actor over Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient, which everyone knows is the BEST MOVIE EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. Grossly - and I do mean grossly - overrated Amy Winehouse gets a Grammy nom, and Springsteen doesn't. Did the voters not hear Girls in Their Summer Clothes? Do they really think trashiness and tattoos translate into actual skill?
Which brings us to Anne Enright's The Gathering, which won the Man Booker Prize this year. The novel explores the dark secrets of an Irish family - three siblings now dead, nine remaining - slowly reuniting for the funeral of a troubled brother. The narrator, mother of two, is still embittered by her parents' relentless procreation, which left the family crammed in a home too small. Her perspective is intriguing; usually we read about the joys of a being part of a large family. The Hegartys, however, are not ones to celebrate much of anything.
But once revealed, the secret - which occurs when the narrator is 8 and her dead brother Liam 9 - is predictable, almost a cliche these days. Unfortunate. I don't want to give away more, but is this truly the best the Booker could do? When Martin Amis' House of Meetings didn't even get shortlisted?