Who is Anna Burns, what is her book Milkman about and who else has won the Man Booker Prize?

HER third novel has astounded critics and propelled her to literary stardom at the age of 56.

Here’s what we know about 2018’s Man Booker prize winner Anna Burns and her Mount Snowdon-esque work of fiction. 

Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her novel Milkman

Who is Anna Burns?

Anna Burns is an Irish author born in Belfast who was raised in the working class Catholic district of Ardoyne.

She moved to London in 1987, and then to East Sussex in 2014.

As well as her recent Man Booker prize-winner, she also penned two other novels in 2001 and 2007.

No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize in 2001, and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2002.

But her success with Milkman has brought her international recognition for the first time at the age of 56.

Burns said her considerable Man Booker winnings would go towards paying off her debts, after collecting the prize from Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at London’s Guildhall.

“I struggled a lot financially,” she said. “It’s partly how I write. There is a lot of waiting.

“I had to move a lot because I couldn’t afford it.”

But she said she never compromises on style and will wait to create what she needs to.

Burns also said that the story wasn’t linked to #MeToo but said she was happy if it proved an inspiration to those involved in the movement.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall presents the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2018 to British writer Anna Burns during the prize’s 50th year at the Guildhall in London
AP:Associated Press

What is her book Milkman about?

Burns’ powerful work explores women, conflict and power during North Ireland’s years of Catholic-Protestant violence.

Milkman is narrated by an unnamed 18-year-old woman, who shares her experiences of an ex-paramilitary older man abusing his position and family ties for sexual coercion and harassment.

The book is printed as a continuous stream with few paragraphs, and explores the power of hearsay, rumour, and deliberate silence.

Philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the panel, said it was “challenging in the way a walk up (mount) Snowdon is challenging”, adding: “We had never read anything like this before.”

He commented: “I think this novel will help people to think about ‘Me Too,’ and I like novels that help people think about current movements and challenges.

“But we think it’ll last — it’s not just about something that’s going on in this moment.”

Milkman has also been praised for having a unique first-person voice using the conversational language of Northern Ireland.

The book was published by Faber & Faber in May 2018.

Who else has won the Man Booker Prize?

Now in its 50th year, the prize has a reputation of transforming previously little known writers’ careers.

Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan and Hilary Mantel.

Burns is the first UK-born winner since Hilary Mantel won in 2012, and the first woman since 2013 to scoop the £50,000 cash prize.

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