Monday 19 November 2018

She delivers: Belfast author Anna Burns scoops Man Booker Prize for 'Milkman'

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

Jill Lawless

Belfast author Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction last night with 'Milkman', a vibrant, violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland's years of Catholic-Protestant violence.

Burns is the first writer from the North to win the £50,000 (€57,000) prize, which is open to English-language authors from around the world.

She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London's medieval Guildhall.

'Milkman' is narrated by a young woman dealing with an older man who uses family ties, social pressure and political loyalties as weapons of sexual coercion and harassment, set in the 1970s.

"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. "But we think it'll last - it's not just about something that's going on in this moment.

"I think it's a very powerful novel about the damage and danger of rumour," he added.

Burns beat five other novelists, including the bookies' favourites: American writer Richard Powers's tree-centric eco-epic 'The Overstory' and Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan's 'Washington Black', the story of a slave who escapes from a sugar plantation in a hot-air balloon.

The other finalists were US novelist Rachel Kushner's 'The Mars Room', set in a women's prison; Robin Robertson's 'The Long Take', a verse novel about a traumatised D-Day veteran; and 27-year-old British author Daisy Johnson's Greek tragedy-inspired family saga 'Everything Under'.

Read more: Anna Burns says Booker Prize-winning novel was not intentionally political

Irish Independent

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