LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) Dubliner Anne Enright won the Man Booker Prize, one of the literary world's most prestigious awards, for her bleak Irish family saga ''The Gathering.'' ''We found it a very powerful, uncomfortable and even at times angry book'', chairman of the judges Howard Davies said after picking one of the outsiders from the short list.
''It is an unflinching look at a grieving family in tough and striking language,'' he told reporters after the judges spent 2-1/2 hours closeted together picking the winner of the 50,000 pound (100,000 dollars) prize.
Enright herself described the book as ''the intellectual equivalent of a Hollywood weepy''.
''When people pick up a book they may want something happy that will cheer them up. In that case, they shouldn't really pick up my book,'' she has admitted.
Asked if winning the famous prize under a harsh media spotlight might now provoke writer's block, the 45-year-old Enright said: ''I am no spring chicken so it won't stop me squawking.'' DARK SECRET Her book tells the tale of the nine surviving children of the Hegarty clan who gather in Dublin for the wake of their wayward, drink-fuelled brother Liam and relive a dark secret from his boyhood.
Enright said of dysfunctional family sagas: ''There is always a drunk, there is always someone who has been interfered with as a child, there is always someone who has been a colossal success.'' ''Family is something which is inescapable, there is no such thing as not being part of the family,'' she told reporters after beating hotly fancied British novelist Ian McEwan and New Zealander Lloyd Jones.
''I do draw on the Irish tradition freely,'' she said, fulsome in praise of compatriot James Joyce. ''Joyce threw a great light, he made everything possible,'' she added.
The last Irish writer to win the Booker was John Banville two years ago for the equally bleak ''The Sea''.
The Booker, won in the past by a string of renowned authors from Salman Rushdie to J M Coetzee, has been criticised for selecting dark, unreadable and worthy tomes unlike the winners of other more populist literary prizes.
But Davies, defending the judges' choice to critics, said: ''I think you people will find this a very readable and satisfying novel.'' The Booker, founded in 1969, rewards the best novel of the year by a writer from Britain, Ireland or a Commonwealth country.
So what would Enright do with the prize money? ''I bought a dress yesterday and I am really glad I can afford it today,'' she said.
REUTERS CS BST0448