Northern Irish writer Anna Burns wins Booker Prize

19 October, 2018, 18:54 | Author: Irvin Gilbert
  • British author Anna Burns holds her book Milkman

Burns took home the £50,000 award for her novel about a young woman being sexually harassed by a powerful man.

Judges for the elite literary fiction prize described it as "beginning with the distinctive and consistently realised voice of the amusing, resilient, astute, plain-spoken, first-person protagonist".

Burns, who was born in the Northern Irish capital Belfast in 1962 and now lives in southern England, had previously authored two novels - "No Bones" and "Little Constructions" - and was shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction.

"None of us has ever read anything like this before", Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of the 2018 judges, said as he announced Burns' name.

The Belfast-born Burns, 56, is the first Northern Irish writer to win the Booker, and the first woman to triumph since 2013.

"It's written in this incredible voice of this woman who is living in a divided society". He is taking advantage of the divisions in society to use the power he has because of the divisions, to go after her. Sectarianism and divisions in Ireland play an enormous role in the novel [but] Northern Ireland is not the only place in the world with a divided society ...

"I started writing it in 2014. It's definitely worth it, because the view is terrific when you get to the top".

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"It is true that because of the flow of the language and the length of the sentences and the fact that some of the language is unfamiliar, that it is not a light read".

Written in lengthy blocks of paragraphs, eschewing character names for descriptions, Appiah admitted that "Milkman" could be seen as "challenging, but in the way a walk up Snowdon is challenging".

Burns, while well-regarded in Britain, was a somewhat surprising choice, beating more prominent writers such as Rachel Kushner and Richard Powers, and a splashy debut by Daisy Johnson, who at 27 would have been the youngest person to win the prize.

Scottish poet Robin Robertson's "The Long Take" became the first book written in verse with photographs to be shortlisted. But Appiah said neither the nationality nor the gender of the authors was a factor in the judges' deliberations on the shortlist of four female authors and two men.

United States author Rachel Kushner was also a finalist for "The Mars Room", a gritty tale written from the perspective of a former lap-dancer serving two life sentences in a USA women's jail. "Also, as with a lot of writers, they don't earn much money". Last year's victor was George Saunders for Lincoln in the Bardo, and in 2016, the prize went to Paul Beatty for The Sellout.

Mr Appiah said numerous 171 books that had been submitted for the prize were overlong and badly in need of a vigorous pruning.



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