Milkman by Anna Burns

Milkman, written by Anna Burns, won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. The book is set in Northern Ireland and it’s actually the first time a Northern Irish writer has been awarded the prize.

This book is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read. For example, none of the characters have names, not even the central character who narrates the book. Everyone is either described by their relationship to the narrator (for example, first brother-in-law and maybe-boyfriend) or by a community nick-name that the characters has earned. There’s the Milkman, and there’s Real Milkman and Somebody McSomebody. I found this way of describing people very endearing, and cleverly at odds with how many of the characters behave. The Milkman, for example, an older married man, with whom the narrator is believed to be having an affair with, is incredibly creepy and sinister.

“But I had not been having an affair with the Milkman. I did not like the Milkman and had been frightened and confused by his pursuing and attempting an affair with me.”

This book describes a community ruled by rumour, gossip, suspicion and reputation. Where being a bit different, can mark you out and attract unwanted attention. The confines of this community within which the character lives make this a book a difficult yet thoroughly enjoyable read.

Amy, Senior Communications Officer at Mind

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