A Novel

Book - 2018
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In Northern Ireland during the Troubles of the 1970s, an unnamed narrator finds herself targeted by a high-ranking dissident known as Milkman. In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister is our protagonist. She is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her nearly-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman (which for the life of her, she cannot work out how it came about). But when first brother-in-law, who of course had sniffed it out, told his wife, her first sister, to tell her mother to come and have a talk with her, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a searingly honest novel told in prose that is as precise and unsentimental as it is devastating and brutal. A novel that is at once unlocated and profoundly tethered to place is surely a novel for our times.
Publisher: Minneapolis, Minnesota : Graywolf Press, [2018]
ISBN: 9781644450000 (paperback)
1644450003 (paperback)
Branch Call Number: FIC BURNS
Characteristics: 352 pages ; 21 cm
Alternative Title: [U.S. edition]


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takeclare Jan 19, 2019

With the stream-of-conscious, digressive narrative voice of the protagonist, Milkman doesn't make for easy reading. But I persevered, because despite at times putting the book down when weary, I found myself thinking about it, kind of hypnotically. It's a book that asks for time and space in which to read it, for a reader's absorption and attention. It's set in the time of the Troubles in Ireland, though for the first few pages I couldn't place this, and it had a surreal quality that made me wonder if it was set in some near-future dystopian police state. A sense of dread and the psychological effects of the political climate permeate the book as the protagonist (unnamed, except in reference to her relation to others - "middle sister", "maybe-girlfriend", "daughter") is stalked by a menacing paramilitary. Numbed and emotionally dissociated by the stress and fear of being stalked, the boundaries of her life shrink, no longer does she feel free to "walk-while-reading", run long distances alone, or to tell anyone of her plight - silenced by a collective understanding that emotional violence against women does not constitute action. A novel which provokes reflection on power, freedom, how we relate to others, and the societies that shape us, Milkman rewards the persistent reader.

Jan 12, 2019

Read 90 pages and decided my time would be well spent reading something else.

Jan 10, 2019


Jan 04, 2019

The novel Milkman was a book I was looking forward to reading in the new year but was unfortunately heavily let down. Anna Burns is clearly a talented writer, but the narrative of consciousness style in this book failed to hold my attention and I eventually gave up on this book after reading about 100 pages. The book attempts to address an important subject but does so in a manner that is less artful and literary than too clever for its own good. This book has such good potential and grace to become a book that many would read but I think it was portrayed in a slightly jaded way. The Narrator or the main character sounded like she wasn’t as invested in her world as the author tried to make her be. It was a really good subject to be addressed but I think was done in a mediocre way. Rating: 3 out of 5
@PocketFullOfBooks22 of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Dec 29, 2018

Unlike the others above, I didn't even make it to 100 pages. I'm sure in some circles (Man Booker for example) it's deemed innovative and wonderful. In my circle - there are too many other books to read and not worth the struggle and assumed benefits since it won a big prize. Suggest The Friend by Sigrid Nunez as a replacement. That book is prize worthy to me.

Dec 27, 2018

This book was terrible. I made it through about 90 pages and I just could not bear it anymore. I'm dumbfounded that this was a Man Booker prize winner.

Dec 24, 2018

Anna Burns is clearly a talented writer, but the stream of consciousness style of this narrative failed to hold my attention and I eventually gave up on this book after reading about 100 pages. The book attempts to address an important subject, but does so in a manner that is less artful and literary than too clever for its own good.

Dec 24, 2018

Sadly, another book I chose not to finish once I completed the 100 mandatory pages. The narrator may appeal to you, but she annoyed me no end. What critics called fresh and appealing, I found irritating. She sounds like a slightly drunk 25-year-old trying to sound sophisticated, jaded, and bored. I imagine her thinking: "Here is my horror story, but I wasn't traumatized at all because, you know, I'm all cool and above it all."

Dec 01, 2018

Although this book has important social commentary that isn't just relevant to "The Troubles", I found the style of writing very distracting and repetitive. I would best describe it as being able to listen to someone's mind -- a stream of consciousness. The author doesn't use names and I found the references to the main character's boyfriend particularly annoying. I had been looking forward to this book and even though it won the Booker for 2018, I was disappointed.

Nov 21, 2018

Any chance we could get this book in audio format?

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