Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize for Milkman
Judges unanimous in the choice of Northern Irish winner for ‘utterly distinctive’ Troubles-era novel.
Irish author Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction on Tuesday for Milkman - a violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland’s years of Catholic-Protestant violence. It was published amid the global eruption of sexual misconduct allegations that sparked the #MeToo movement.
The experimental novel, Burns’s third, is narrated by an unnamed 18-year-old girl, known as “middle sister”, who is being pursued by a much older paramilitary figure, the milkman. The Booker’s chair of judges called it “incredibly original”.
“None of us has ever read anything like this before. I think this novel will help people to think about ‘Me Too,’ and I like novels that help people think about current movements and challenges,” said philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the judging panel.
Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000 pound ($66,000) prize, which is open to English-language authors from across the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London’s medieval Guildhall.
The 56-year-old said she was stunned to have won. Burns beat five other novelists including American writer Richard Powers’ tree-centric eco-epic The Overstory and Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan’s Washington Black.