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Milkman

by Anna Burns

Modern and Contemporary Fiction

LoveReading View on Milkman

The unnamed narrator of this remarkable novel is a vulnerable, bookish eighteen-year-old who lives in a close-knit community beset by sectarian violence. Harassed by an older man she calls Milkman, she’s compelled to keep her encounter with this sinister figure a deeply buried secret. She’s isolated, silenced, and must remain silent, and it’s this that cuttingly resonates with the #MeToo movement, and also with the situation of many teenage girls whose early experiences of womanhood all too often involve fear, shame and secrecy. 

Many reviews of this novel speak of its “challenging” nature, its “difficult” experimentalism, but whether a reader finds it to be “difficult” very much depends as to how one engages with the narrator. It took a little while to fall in step with her rhythm, but I found her stream-of-consciousness voice compelling and richly rewarding. Sharp on the psychology of small communities and the repercussions of inaction, and quirkily comic to boot, this is an exhaustively exceptional novel.

Joanne Owen

Milkman Synopsis

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018 In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

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Milkman Press Reviews

Milkman is extraordinary. I've been reading passages aloud for the pleasure of hearing it. It's frightening, hilarious, wily and joyous all at the same time. - Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies

The narrator of Milkman disrupts the status quo not through being political, heroic or violently opposed, but because she is original, funny, disarmingly oblique and unique: different. --Guardian

Anna Burns is part of a movement of new and established female Belfast writers... along with Lucy Caldwell, Rois n O'Donnell, Jan Carson and others. Milkman is both a story of Belfast and its particular sins but it is also a story of anywhere. It reminded me of China Mieville's The City and the City where identity, names and seeing the Other are contentious acts. Milkman shares this level of ambition; it is an impressive, wordy, often funny book and confirms Anna Burns as one of our rising literary stars. --Irish Times

From the outset, Milkman is delivered in a breathless, hectic, glorious torrent. The pace doesn't let up for a single moment.... Milkman can sometimes feel like a nerve-jangling reading experience; exhausting, even. Yet those who stick with Ann Burns' hectic, stream-of-consciousness writing, not dissimilar to that of Eimear McBride or Flann O'Brien, are more than rewarded. Her writing has been described as point-blank poetry,

and rightly so. Her grasp on Middle sister's voice is so confident, and the textures of the environment, with its politics both big and small, are a thing to behold. It's an astute, exquisite account of Northern Ireland's social landscape, but Milkman is much more than that, too. It's also a coming-of-age story with flecks of dark humour, yet at other points it's a damning portrait of rape culture, and how women are often regarded in communities like this one. Because of this, Milkman is a potent and urgent book, with more than a hint of barely contained fury. --Irish Independent

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780571338757
Publication date: 24/10/2018
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780571342730
Publication date: 21/09/2018
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780571342730
Publication date: 21st September 2018
Author: Anna Burns
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Format: Hardback
Genres: Modern and Contemporary Fiction,
Categories:

About Anna Burns

Anna Burns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She 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 short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in East Sussex, England.

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