Northern Irish writer wins 2018 Man Booker prize

Writer Anna Burns has become the first person from Northern Ireland to win the Man Booker Prize.

She won for her third novel, Milkman, which is set in an unnamed Northern Irish city during the troubles. It is a coming-of-age tale of a girl’s affair with a powerful married man.

The announcement was made at a function at London’s Guildlhall last night.

The chair of the 2018 judging panel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, said of Milkman: “None of us has ever read anything like this before.

“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.

“Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

Burns, 56, was born in Belfast but lives in East Sussex in England. Her first novel, No Bones, was also set during the Troubles.

Burns beat two other British writers, two American writers and a Canadian writer to win the award which recognises quality literary fiction written in English. Four of those shortlisted were women. Burns wins  £50 000 (about R930 000).

British writer Daisy Johnston, at 27 the youngest author ever shortlisted for the prize, was widely tipped to win for her novel Everything Under.

The others on the shortlist were Canadian Esi Edugyan for Washington Black, American Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room, American Richard Powers for The Overstory, and Briton Robin Robertson The Long Take.

Appiah said the shortlisted books were a “miracle of stylistic invention” and that “language takes centre stage”. – VIVIEN HORLER


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