milkman

MILKMAN


Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize

In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be.

Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him—and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend—rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions,

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Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize

In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes “interesting,” the last thing she ever wanted to be.

Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him—and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend—rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor, Milkman establishes Anna Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day.

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  • Graywolf Press
  • Paperback
  • December 2018
  • 360 Pages
  • 9781644450000

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$16.00

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About Anna Burns

anna burns credit eleni stefanouAnna Burns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the author of Milkman and two previous novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, as well as the novella, Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in East Sussex, England.

Praise

Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize

“Bursting with energy, with tiny apertures of kindness, and a youthful kind of joy … A triumph of resistance.” —The Boston Globe 

“Seething with black humor and adolescent anger at the adult world and its brutal absurdities … For a novel about life under multifarious forms of totalitarian control—political, gendered, sectarian, communal—Milkman can be charmingly wry.” —The New Yorker 

“Milkman vibrates with the anxieties of our own era, from terrorism to sexual harassment to the blinding divisions that make reconciliation feel impossible It’s as though the intense pressure of this place has compressed the elements of comedy and horror to produce some new alloy.—The Washington Post

“Everything about this novel rings true. . . . Original, funny, disarmingly oblique and unique.”—The Guardian (UK)

“Acute, chilling, and often wry. . . . The narrator of this claustrophobic yet strangely buoyant tale undergoes an unsentimental education in sexual politics. This is an unforgettable novel.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Milkman is a uniquely meandering and mesmerizing, wonderful and enigmatic work about borders and barriers, both physical and spiritual, and the cost of survival.”—Booklist, starred review

“From the opening page her words pull us into the daily violence of her world—threats of murder, people killed by state hit squads—while responding to the everyday realities of her life as a young woman.”—Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of Man Booker Prize judging panel

“Eccentric and oddly beguiling. . . . What makes it memorable is the funny, alienated, common-sensical voice of middle sister, who refuses to join in the madness.” —The Sunday Times (UK)

Discussion Questions

1. When and where does Milkman take place? How do you know?

2. How did the author’s avoidance of proper names, for both people and places, affect your experience of reading the book?

3. How do various characters in the novel express their political allegiances?

4. The milkman causes extreme fear and anxiety for middle sister, complicating her life even though their interactions are quite brief and never physical. Where does this power come from? Is it violent?

5. How does the milkman compare to villains you have encountered in other stories?

6. Even before the rumors about the milkman, middle sister aroused suspicions due to her unusual tendency to read while walking. What are some of the other reasons people in the community have come to be considered “beyond the pale”? How are these designations decided and enforced? Are there exceptions?

7. How is the “real milkman” significant to middle sister, to her family, and to the novel?

8. omplex feelings lie just below the surface in middle sister’s family, particularly between her and her mother. How does their relationship change during the course of the novel?

9. Who is middle sister closest to? Who does she turn to when she needs to talk?

10. What are some cultural similarities or differences between the community in Milkman and your own?