[The JRB Daily] Anna Burns wins 2018 Man Booker Prize for her ‘utterly distinctive’ novel Milkman

Anna Burns has become the first Northern Irish writer to win the Man Booker Prize.

The fifty-six-year-old author won the fiftieth edition of the award for her novel Milkman, her third full-length novel.

Previous Irish Booker winners, including John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle, all come from the Republic or Ireland. Burns also becomes the first female winner since 2013, when Eleanor Catton took the award with The Luminaries.

Milkman is set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and focuses on a young woman who is being sexually harassed by a powerful man.

Burns, who was born in Belfast and lives in East Sussex, saw off competition from the two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer who made up this year’s shortlist.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges, says: ‘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 wins £50,000 prize money. The Booker is also known for its bookselling clout: in the week following the 2017 prize announcement, sales of George Saunders’s winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo increased by 1227 per cent. Bloomsbury has now sold over 230,000 copies of the novel across all formats, with seventy per cent of those sales coming after the win.

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