Anna Burns’s “Milkman” is an experimental novel about a bookish 18-year-old girl harassed by a paramilitary figure called the milkman during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. On Tuesday, it won the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Burns, 56, is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the prize. “Milkman” is her third novel and was initially set to be published in the United States next fall, but Graywolf Press announced Tuesday that “Milkman” will be released on Dec. 11.
In an interview posted by the Booker Prize foundation, Burns said that “Milkman” was inspired by her own experience. “I grew up in a place that was rife with violence, distrust and paranoia, and peopled by individuals trying to navigate and survive in that world as best as they could.”
“‘Milkman’ is a novel of tremendous power and verve, and the voice of middle sister, who rallies against the pervasive influence of the patriarchy, is still ringing in our ears,” said Graywolf editor Steve Woodward in a statement released immediately after the prize was announced. “This is a historic recognition for a book and author that are more than equal to the moment.”
The Booker prize, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is worth about $66,000. For the winner, it usually results in dramatically increased sales around the world, which will be welcome news to the lucky publisher. According to the Guardian, none of this year’s finalists has so far sold more than 6,000 copies in the U.K.
Kwame Anthony Appiah served as the chairman of this year’s judges, who included Val McDermid, Leo Robson, Jacqueline Rose and Leanne Shapton.