The Gathering, by Anne Enright (12 kids)Read about the other entries on the list.
This winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize follows the Hegerty family, a large Irish brood raised in Dublin. As the book opens, the Hegertys are gathering for the funeral of their brother Liam. The novel centers on Liam’s sister Veronica, and the history of the family unfolds through her recollections and memories. There are so many elements in this book that fall into what is stereotypically “Irish”: drunken fights, domestic violence, melancholy, suicide, and pretty much everything depressing. But this book is so much more than that. Thanks to Enright’s command of language, the story doesn’t dwell (or depend too much) on these tragic tropes to move it along; rather, they act as idiosyncrasies of each character. Through Veronica’s memories, the reader is also asked an important question any family faces: How do you know what’s true and what’s fiction in stories when they become as much a part of a family as the people in them?