Booker Winner Tells How TV Job Drove Her to Breakdown; Favourite: Ian McEwan with Gail Roebuck. Below: Nobel Laureate Doris Lessing and Beryl Bainbridge Literary Triumph: Anne Enright Celebrating Her Victory at Guildhall with Her Husband, Martin Murphy

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THE 2007 Man Booker Prize winner Anne Enright woke today to find herselfhailed as the starry new addition to the canon of great Irish writers aboutfamilies. She was awarded the [pounds sterling]50,000 prize for The Gathering at a ceremony atGuildhall.

The mother of two children, aged four and seven, thanked her parents "foreverything" and her siblings "for never faltering" as well as her husband,Martin Murphy, a theatre director, whom she described as the love of her life.

"I think my life has changed but I don't know in what way, so for the momentI'm really enjoying it," she said.

But she insisted her bleak tale of a family who gather after one of thesiblings kills himself is certainly not autobiographical. "I know thedifference between myself and my fictions." Her victory came as a surprise tothe bookmakers who had expected either Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach or theheavily tipped Mr Pip by New Zealander Lloyd Jones to take the prize. Enright,who turned 45 last week, was a rank outsider.

The novel is the fourth in a writing career which has followed a stint as aproducer in Irish television which precipitated a breakdown.

"I'm really glad I did a job because a lot of writers never did a job. Theydon't know anything about the world of work. On a small scale, the world oftelevision teaches you a lot about ambition," she said.

She worked on a chat show for Irish television station RTE which was both "fab"and "horrible". She said: "We were live three nights a week. We drank our headsoff [afterwards]. It was inevitable that it should crash and burn at somestage. But some of the people I made friends with are friends for life." Butwriting was what she had to do, she said. She compared herself to Nobel Prizewinner Doris Lessing, who described writing as "a bloody neurosis". …


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