Anne Enright - The Gathering

Alcoholism, famine, poverty, violence, illness, death, teenage pregnancy, conflict with the Catholic Church and warring families – yes, we are talking about 'Irish Misery Lit' after Anne Enright collected the Man Booker Prize for her bleak novel, The Gathering.

Enright's victory once again turns the literary spotlight on the Emerald Isle, but readers can expect another harrowing read – The Gathering is a depressing tale of a large Irish family in mourning following a suicide.

"You know, all families are the same," said Dublin-born Enright after collecting the award. "There is always a drunk, always someone who has been interfered with as a child, always someone who is a colossal success."

Howard Davies, head of the judging panel, said: "The Gathering is an unflinching look at a grieving family. It's the bleakness of one woman's vision, a bleakness rooted in her family, her marriage and the death of her brother."

Enright follows a well worn path through 'Irish Misery Lit' with Roddy Doyle (who won the Booker in 1993 with Paddy Clarke Ha-Ha-Ha) and Frank McCourt leading the way over the past 20 years. The Gathering "is the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood weepie," said Enright. "It's not a cheerful book."

If pain and misery in Ireland is your cup of tea, AbeBooks.co.uk has compiled a list of 10 books about Irish life/strife that will have you sobbing into your James Joyce collection.

10 Books About Misery in Ireland

1. The Dark

John McGahern

John McGahern - The Dark

A young man grows up in rural Ireland in the 1960s under the control of a domineering and brutal widowed father. Brutality within the family and clerical sexual misdeeds are daily issues to overcome.
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6. The Law of Dreams

Peter Behrens

Peter Behrens - The Law of Dreams

The story of an Irish boy after his family dies during the Great Potato Famine. At 15 Fergus O'Brien takes up with a group of child bandits before heading north where he takes a dangerous job on the railroad.
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2. The Butcher Boy

Patrick McCabe

Patrick McCabe - The Butcher Boy

A disaffected, working-class, Roman Catholic teenager lives in Northern Ireland with his alcoholic father and suicidal mother. Envious of his neighbours, he begins playing tricks on the family and turns to violence. Short-listed for the 1994 Booker Prize.
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7. A Swift Pure Cry

Siobhan Dowd

Siobhan Dowd - A Swift Pure Cry

When her mother dies, a young girl is trapped in a depressing life with her pious, but alcoholic father who gives up his job to devote his life to God. Poverty and an unwanted pregnancy follow.
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3. Angela's Ashes

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt - Angela's Ashes

"Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood," writes Frank McCourt in Angela's Ashes. "Worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood." And this one isn’t even fiction, it’s a memoir and a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1996.
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8. House of Splendid Isolation

Edna O'Brien

Edna O'Brien - House of Splendid Isolation

An elderly Irish woman possessed by memories of her troubled marriage and one clandestine love affair. Her solitude is violated by an IRA terrorist, who has chosen her home as a sanctuary.
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4. Blackwater Lightship

Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin - Blackwater Lightship

As a man lies dying of AIDS, only his sister knows of his secret homosexuality. The sister, mother and grandmothers estrangement is ended only by the grief that they share. Short-listed for the 1999 Booker Prize.
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9. Paddy Clarke Ha-Ha-Ha

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle - Paddy Clarke Ha-Ha-Ha

Young Paddy rampages through the streets of Barrytown with a pack of like-minded hooligans. His world falls apart when he realizes that his parents' marriage is crumbling. Won the1993 Booker Prize.
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5. Under the Hawthorn Tree

Marita Conlon-McKenna

Marita Conlon-McKenna - Under the Hawthorn Tree

When the potato crop fails and their father and mother leave for good, the O'Driscoll children are forced to find two great-aunts or end up in the workhouse.
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10. The Woman Who Walked into Doors

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle - The Woman Who Walked into Doors

An unflinching look at the life of Paula Spencer, hooked on the drink, as she struggles to regain her dignity after a marriage to an abusive husband.
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Top Books Tagged 'Irish Lit' on LibraryThing

James Joyce - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

  1. A Portrait of the Artist
    as a Young Man
    , James Joyce
  2. Ulysses, James Joyce
  3. Dubliners, James Joyce
  4. Finnegans Wake, James Joyce
  5. Three Plays, Sean
    O'Casey
  6. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, W.B. Yeats
  7. At Swim-Two-Birds,
    Flann O'Brien
  8. Paddy Clarke, Ha-Ha-Ha, Roddy Doyle
  9. The Crock of Gold, James Stephens
  10. The Poor Mouth, Flann O'Brien

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