Irish novelist Anna Burns wins prestigious Man Booker Prize

The British writer, born in Belfast in Northern Ireland, was awarded the coveted literary prize, which each year crowns the best work of fiction in the English language, for his novel Milkman.

Anna Burns on Tuesday became the first Irish novelist to win the Man Booker Prizea prestigious literary prize awarded each year to the best work of fiction in the English language, with his novel Milkman.

The jury called his novel, an exploration of the pervasive violence during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, “totally singular”. “None of us have ever read anything like it before. It’s a very powerful novel,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of the 2018 jury, announcing the name of the winner.

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Although set in an anonymous town, “Milkmanis undoubtedly inspired by the experience of Anna Burns, born in Belfast in 1962 and who grew up during the Troubles which bloodied the British province for three decades, at a time when Brexit raised fears of a resurgence of tensions .

A book that denounces state violence

Written in the first person, in one go and without paragraphs, which can make it difficult to read, Milkman evokes military but also social violence through the eyes of an 18-year-old girl, confronted with rumours. Not named, except by the qualifier of “younger sister”, she likes to read, and immerses herself in books, including in the street, thus isolating herself from the ambient violence, until the day when a man much older than her and married begins to pursue her with her unwanted attentions.

For everyday The Guardianmore than state or paramilitary violence, the author tackles “the more insidious forces that are the oppression exercised by tribalism, conformity, religion, patriarchy, living in a general distrust and permanent fear.

Anna Burns, who now lives in Sussex, southern England, wins ahead of five other finalists including bookmakers’ favourite, the young Briton Daisy Johnson27 years old, selected for Everything Underwhich evokes childhood memories of Gretel, who lived on a houseboat with her mother, before she abandoned her, and the American Richard Powers nominated for his eco-novel The Overstory (The World Tree for its French translation).

She won a reward of 50,000 pounds (about 56,500 euros) but above all an immediate international notoriety which should propel the sales of her novel. For example, Bloomsbury, publisher of the American george saundershas sold more than 230,000 copies of his book Lincoln in the Bardo2017 winner, 70% of sales having been made after the awarding of the literary prize.

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Irish novelist Anna Burns wins prestigious Man Booker Prize