Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Northern Irish author Anna Burns' 'Milkman' wins Man Booker Prize

Northern Irish author Anna Burns' 'Milkman' wins Man Booker Prize

Chair of judges Kwame Anthony Appiah admitted that the "experimental" novel, told in first person speech without conventional paragraphs, may prove "challenging" for general readers.

A first for the North: Anna Burns on stage at the Guildhall in London after she was awarded the Man Booker Prize last night.

"It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humor. It's worth it when you get to the view at the top". "I spend my time reading articles in the Journal of Philosophy so by my standards this is not too hard", he said.

Asked whether he accepts Milkman is a challenging read, Appiah replied it was "enormously rewarding" provided readers persist with it.

"This novel will help people to think about #MeToo. but we think it will last and that means it's not just about something that's going on in this moment".

As the award was announced, Burns was lost for words. "It's a waiting process".

She said: "I was being told to create the girl".

"I had to move a lot because I couldn't afford it", she said, adding that her first priority would be paying off debts and she would live off the rest of the prize money.

The win makes Burns the first Northern Irish victor - previous Irish winners, including John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, all come from the republic.

The victor, Anna Burns, drew on her own experiences during Northern Ireland's "troubles" to write her novel, Milkman. Burns, who lives in East Sussex in England, saw off competition from two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer.

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Her win ensured that an American did not win the Booker for a third year in succession.

Milkman is the fourth novel to be written by Ms Burns, who was born in Belfast in 1962. Milkman- a paramilitary figure, approaches Middle Star. "But I had not been having an affair with the milkman".

"We are honoured to support the Man Booker Prize for the sixteenth year, as it continues in its fiftieth year to champion literary excellence and the power of the novel on a global scale", Ellis said.

"I don't know whose milkman he was. He didn't ever deliver milk".

"She's being harassed by a man who is sexually interested in her, and he's taking advantage of divisions in the society to use the power he has, because of those divisions, to go after her".

Milkman also spoke to the concerns of today, Appiah said. "It is to be commended for giving us a deep and subtle and morally and intellectually challenging picture of what #MeToo is about".

Appiah was unabashed. He said: "I've never thought that a book that people can read on the tube was one of the important features to look for".

The 56-year-old Belfast-born novelist said she was "stunned" to have won.

Mr Appiah said Ms Burns wrote with a witty, unique voice. None of the characters in the book have names. "In the early days I tried out names a few times, but the book wouldn't stand for it".

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