Northern Irish author Anna Burns' 'Milkman' wins Man Booker Prize

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The first ever Northern Irish victor of the prestigious award said that the issues of gender and sexual coercion in prize-winning book Milkman are the result of inspiration, not conviction.

Writer Anna Burns smiles after she was presented with the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2018 by Britain's Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall during the prize's 50th year at the Guildhall in London, Britain, October 16, 2018.

Burns, who was born in the Northern Irish capital Belfast in 1962 and now lives in southern England, had previously authored two novels - "No Bones" and "Little Constructions" - and was shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, chair of the judging panel said, "None of us has ever read anything like this before". But for all its praise (the jury chose the novel unanimously, calling it "incredibly original"), Milkman was a low-key entry to the prize this year.

Author Anna Burns was named the victor of the 2018 Man Booker Prize for her novel Milkman at a lavish awards ceremony in London on Tuesday night, becoming the first author from Northern Ireland to win the most prestigious English-language literary award.

The novel, Burns's third, is set during the Troubles in the 1970s with a protagonist facing sexual harassment from a man taking advantage of the "divided society".

Burns said: "I struggled a lot financially".

"It is true that because of the flow of the language and the length of the sentences and the fact that some of the language is unfamiliar, that it is not a light read".

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"It's challenging in the way a walk up (mount) Snowdon is challenging". The novel, Burns' third, is narrated through an 18-year-old girl, known as "middle sister", who is being pursued by a much older person, the "milkman", The Guardian reported.

Set in the British countryside, Ms Johnson's novel centres on the complex relationship between Gretel and her mother, who abandoned her to foster care so she could make a fresh start with a new lover.

The Man Booker has a reputation for transforming writers' careers, and the one who will emerge from the field to beat other finalists is always subject to intense speculation and lively betting.

Scottish poet Robin Robertson's "The Long Take" became the first book written in verse with photographs to be shortlisted.

This year's shortlist - whittled down from 13 - pitted four female writers against two men.

Another finalist was Richard Powers (USA) for The Overstory, about nine strangers summoned by trees to try to save the continent's few remaining acres of forest.

"This novel will help people to think about #MeToo. but we think it will last and that means it's not just about something that's going on in this moment". In an interview for the Man Booker Prize website, she said, "The book didn't work with names". "We picked the one. most deserving of the prize".

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