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Milkman Paperback – December 1, 2018

3.8 out of 5 stars 2,424 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of December 2018: No one in Milkman, winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize, has a name. The place isn’t named either, although it appears to be 1970s Belfast, the city where Anna Burns grew up. There are very few paragraphs in this stream-of-consciousness novel that is essentially about borders—the borders we try to maintain between ourselves and others, borders between different families, between cities, between countries, belief systems, even with time itself. The story revolves around “middle sister,” who keeps to herself and only likes to read old books because she’s not particularly a fan of the 20th Century. When a local man with a dangerous reputation, a “paramililtary,” takes an unwelcome interest in her, she is unable to repel him and seems incapable of breaking the chain of gossip and innuendo that surrounds her as a result. The issues in Milkman seem very relevant to today--#MeToo, political Manichaeism, gossip and opinion presented as fact—but this is a modernist novel and should be viewed through that prism first. It won’t be every reader’s cup of tea. It’s a rare vintage from an island that has no name. –Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review

Review

“[Milkman] seeth[es] 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

“Brutally intelligent. . . . At its core, Milkman is [a] wildly good and true novel of how living in fear limits people.”―NPR.org

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

Milkman is a strange animal; it asks a lot, but gives something back, too: the electric jolt of a voice that feels utterly, sensationally new.”Entertainment Weekly (Grade: A–)

“[Burns’] style powerfully evokes the narrator’s sense of emotional entrapment. . . . Milkman makes a passionate claim for freethinking in a place where monochromatic, us-versus-them ideology prevails.”USA Today

Milkman is a deft and triumphant work of considerable intelligence and importance. . . . It is a deeply feminist work, a compelling and significant look at how the regular life of a young woman is intimately used for personal and political gain. . . . Middle Sister is a force. She is a modern heroine.”Los Angeles Times

“Few works of fiction see as clearly as this one how violence deforms social networks, enhancing, people’s worst instincts. . . . This book is also bursting with energy, with tiny apertures of kindness, and a youthful kind of joy. . . . To plunge headlong into this voice now feels like a necessary reminder that one of the most complex and difficult emotions to put in a novel of darkness is joy. On that, too, perhaps especially so, Milkman is a triumph of resistance.”―The Boston Globe

Milkman is a richly complex portrayal of a besieged community and its traumatized citizens, of lives lived within many concentric circles of oppression. . . . Among Burns’ singular strengths as a writer is her ability to address the topics of trauma and tyranny with a playfulness that somehow never diminishes the sense of her absolute seriousness. . . . There is a pulsating menace at the heart of the book, of which the title character is an uncannily indeterminate avatar, but also a deep sadness at the human cost of conflict. . . . For all the darkness of the world it illuminates, Milkman is as strange and variegated and brilliant as a northern sunset. You just have to turn your face toward it, and give it your full attention.”Slate

“This is a powerful, funny and sometimes immensely beautiful novel, with a female lead whose life is a low-key renunciation of the violence that shook her city for a generation.”Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

“At once intimate and universal, historical and fabulistic and timely, unconventional and almost sentimentally hopeful.”Vulture

Milkman is an explosive novel, very much of history but not limited by the names, dates, and places of the official record. It’s a more intimate work than that, and an outstanding contribution to the growing canon of nameless girl heroes.”The New Republic

“This coming-of-age tale is original, timely, and ultimately rewarding.”PopMatters

Milkman vibrates. It is energized with a perspective that immerses the reader in a setting that commands attention.”Washington Independent Review of Books

“[Milkman] has unmistakable force and charisma.”―WBUR “The ARTery”

“Timely and provocative; not to miss.”Orange County Register

“Imaginative, feminist, and genre-defying. . . . Burns has conjured an extraordinary world.”The National Book Review

“With an immense rush of dazzling language, Burns submerges readers beneath the tensions of life in a police state. . . . A deeply stirring, unforgettable novel that feels like a once-in-a-generation event.”―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“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

“Using stream of consciousness and few if any personal names, Burns creates a musical and lyrical tour de force.”Library Journal, starred review

“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)

Milkman is delivered in a breathless, hectic, glorious torrent. . . . It’s an astute, exquisite account of Northern Ireland’s social landscape. . . . A potent and urgent book, with more than a hint of barely contained fury.”Irish Independent

“I haven’t stopped talking about Anna Burns’s astonishing Milkman. The voice is dazzling, funny, acute. . . . Like all great writing it invents its own context, becomes its own universe.”―Eoin McNamee, The Irish Times

“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

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Graywolf Press; 1st edition (December 1, 2018)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 360 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1644450003
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1644450000
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1 pounds
  • Customer Reviews:
    3.8 out of 5 stars 2,424 ratings

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Anna Burns was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the author of two novels, No Bones and Little Constructions, and of the novella, Mostly Hero. No Bones won the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize and was short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She lives in East Sussex, England.

Author photo credit Eleni Stefanou

Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5
2,424 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 17, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

london walker
1.0 out of 5 stars Booker..why?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2018
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M. Dowden
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth Reading
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2018
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Lady F
1.0 out of 5 stars Not well written and an arduous read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 1, 2018
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BigDog
2.0 out of 5 stars Confused? You will be
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2018
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V. O'Regan
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2018
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