"Milkman" Delivers the Goods, Wins Man Booker Prize

Chris Schluep on October 17, 2018

milkman.jpgThere was a surprise win yesterday as Milkman, by the Northern Irish writer Anna Burns, won the Man Booker Prize. The book is out in the U.K., but the American publisher Graywolf, which was planning to publish the book in the Fall of 2019, has pushed the book to a December 11th on-sale as a result of the win.

Here is the official copy from the publisher:

In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him—and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend—rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor, Milkman establishes Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day.

The novel has been described as "experimental," citing the use of few paragraph breaks and the absence of names in the book (hence the reference to "middle sister" in the copy above).

When he announced the winner, philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who is the Booker’s chair of judges, said, "Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.”

Burns is the first Northerrn Irish author to win this prestigious prize, for which she will be awarded £50,000. She was born in Belfast and is the author of two novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, and of the novella Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in East Sussex, England. 

You can see the original longlist for the Man Booker here.

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