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3.54  ·  Rating details ·  54,705 ratings  ·  8,151 reviews
In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wan ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Faber & Faber
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Zoe I am currently reading the book and so far, I am left with the impression that the deliberate omission of the names is a tool. Names are identifiers a…moreI am currently reading the book and so far, I am left with the impression that the deliberate omission of the names is a tool. Names are identifiers and turn a story from generic to extremely specific. They also make the relationship between character and reader more intimate. I find that this simple fact of being unaware of the protagonist's name has me less empathetic than I would usually be - and thus keeps me more grounded, like an observer, less likely to make moral judgements on what takes place. This refusal to name the characters aids to preserve a more generic viewpoint - it cannot be now just a story, it somehow is every story.

I cannot say that the source of difficulty of this book (if indeed, there is one) is the lack of names. I would urge you though, to give it a go. It's an intriguing book! =)


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October 21st, 2018
Somebody gave me their copy of the Man Booker winner today because I'm down with 'flu. A nice surprise. And a surprise to find the colour pink dominating the cover. What had I thought? That it would be green? Or white? Or maybe orange?
No. Ignore the orange. That must be the fever talking.

The pink-covered book looks unread and I worry about creasing the spine of said pink book but I crease it anyway, and quickly. I've wanted to read Pinkbook ever since I'd first heard about it
Sep 01, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Well, that was...unpleasant! I usually can read a 352 page novel in two to three days... this took me a tortuous ten, as on several occasions I looked at the book and just had no interest in reading any of it. I was sorely tempted to DNF it, but as a Booker completest, I rallied myself to get through. I'm going to disappoint some by not giving this one of my infamous parodic takedown reviews, but I am going to have to pass, since this book not only sapped my creative juices, but at several point ...more
Reread Nov 2020 for a group discussion in Reading the 20th Century, and just as impressive second time round
Deserved Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2019

This year's Man Booker longlist contains plenty of surprises, but I suspect that none will be more welcome than this one. I will try to keep this review fairly short, so for a more detailed one I recommend this one from Gumble's Yard:

The setting is based on
No no no no no!

As in hell no I didn’t finish it! I made it through a third of the book but I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was right up there with a root canal—maybe worse, because it required intense concentration. A fascinating book that sadly was unreadable for me.

I feel bad I’m bad-mouthing this book. First 60 pages, I was on my knees worshiping this author for being such a freakin’ genius. The sentences, oh the sentences: Unique, twisted, revealing, stunning. The writing was very styliz
Jim Fonseca
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
[Edited 3/31/22]
This book won the Man Booker Prize in 2018. Its fame comes from the distinctive 'Voice of Middle Sister.' So it’s a 'voice' book that makes me think of others: the brogue of Swing Hammer Swing by Jeff Torrington or The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All by Allan Gurganus.

The book has 7,700 reviews on GR so I’ll go easy on the summary. You’ll probably like it - or you won’t. There is a dichotomy in the reviews with mostly 4’s and 5’s but many 1’s and 2’s and a lot of DNFs.
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Now deserved winner of the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award (one which acts as a kind of after publication year “best of” award - this year pitting in the shortlist winners of the Booker, Women’s Prize, Giller, NBA and Nobel).


One year on from its win and this book’s sales and reputation go for strength to strength. Anna Burns gave a moving speech at the recent Booker award dinner for 2019 which I was lucky enough to attend. The 2019 longlist had many strong books but n
Man Booker 2018 WINNER! So well deserved; congrats, Anna Burns!

I loved Milkman, but it's so painfully niche I can't think of anyone I'd personally recommend it to. Set in an unnamed city that's probably Belfast in the 1970s, Milkman follows an unnamed narrator who's believed by her community to be having an affair with a man known only as 'the milkman,' who isn't actually a milkman. Told in stream-of-consciousness prose and set against the backdrop of the Troubles, Milkman doesn't offer much
This book represents the very best literary fiction has to offer, as well as much of what puts people off. Highly original, with distinctively crafted sentence structure, dense with meaning, and plenty of things to say about both the political and the personal. Lofty and lowly ideas. Ach, it's lovely. Ach, 'tis.

It's also "difficult". Difficult to read, because of those sentences I lauded earlier. Those long, elliptical, musical sentences that live in equally long paragraphs. Difficult, perhaps,
Violet wells
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Many writers strive for a fresh vibrant distinctive voice; few achieve it as well as Anna Burns does in this novel. It was fitting that I read this while reading Toni Morrison's Beloved because both novels have a fresh and innovative female voice at the helm and both very cleverly and subtly bring heaps of searing intelligence to the essentially uneducated worlds they depict.

Milkman is an evocation of a world in which bigotry rules supreme. And this bigotry is mocked relentlessly with often hil
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2018 *sigh*
This isn't a bad book, but I didn't enjoy reading it at all - which confronts me with the challenge to do the novel justice while also explaining why it didn't appeal to me. Challenge accepted!

"Milkman" tells the story of an 18-year-old woman in Belfast during the Troubles. While she is trying to stay out of the turmoil around her, even going as far as reading while she is walking the city, this attempt is obviously doomed: In times of a crisis of this m

Winner of the Booker Prize 2018, Winner of International Dublin Literary Award 2020 and of other prizes.

This year has been a wonder from the reading perspective. I discovered some exciting new authors (for me) and I am happy to confirm that Ann Burns is one of them. I’ve wanted to read Milkman since it won the Booker prize in 2018 but I finally took the plunge when I found out it also won the International Dublin Literary Award and that one of my groups on GR is going to read it in November
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recs, 2019
I read and reviewed this novel for BookBrowse.

A satirical novel about coming of age amidst the Troubles, Milkman offers incisive commentary on gender socialization and the pressure to conform during an era of political instability. From the vantage point of the present, the Northern Irish protagonist, the obliquely named "middle sister," narrates the trials she faced as a teenager living in an urban war zone, an inhospitable environment where "you created a political statement everywhere you wen
Paula K (on hiatus)
“Yet they hadn’t married because 3rd brother had gone and done the usual unquestioned, unconscious, self-protective thing. Being loved back by the person he loved to the point where he couldn’t cope anymore with the vulnerable reciprocity of giving and receiving, he ended the relationship to get it over with before he lost it, before it was snatched from him, either by fate or by somebody else.”

Imagine living in an environment that is so dangerous, violent...a war zone...with such political unre
"She didn't want the truth. All she wanted was confirmation of the rumour."

This novel consumed me for three days. "Reading-While-Walking", a feature that isolates the main character of Milkman as she faces the mainstream intolerance of her "totalitarian community", was copied by me in a ridiculously literal way, as was the deliberate ignoring of all reality going on outside the pink covers of my book. This novel would not have been the choice of Middle Sister, who preferred to demonstrate her c
Fear has a crushing weight to it. It changes you, bends you into the shape you weren’t meant to be, controls your very existence.
“Life here, said real milkman, simply has to be lived and died in extremes.”
Although I’ve seen it described as darkly funny, to me this book was quietly angry. Angry at the crushing and bleak oppressiveness and claustrophobia of the world described, the world of judgmental gossip, habitual violence, enforced conformity and resigned fatalism. And above all that, th
The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died. He had been shot by one of the state hit squads and I did not care about the shooting of this man.

And so it begins – one of the most extraordinary novels I’ve ever read. I got what I call “the giddiness” early on, but gave myself a talking down to not get ahead of myself, because really, can anyone sustain such a high level of interestingness for three hundred plu
This book was tough on me. So I’m quite divided on the rating. Winner of the Man Booker prize 2018, shortlisted for the women’s prize for fiction 2019. And more. Lots of outstanding reviews here on goodreads and by the renowned magazines and papers. But also some with the same feelings as I, I see. So I started it and really had a hard time reading through these dense pages without stops and going on and on about the same topic page after the page. But, I really like a challenge 😊. Long story sh ...more
Ova - Excuse My Reading
I heard that you're on Booker Longlist
That you're a strong favourite, solid now

I heard, that you're a dystopia
I guess you'd gave me things
Like others did to me

Good book, why sentences so long
Either finish the sentence
Or start a paragraph

I hate to DNF you like this, early unexpected but I
Couldn't keep reading, couldn't fight it
I had hoped you see my face
And that you let me go, tell me it's over

Nevermind, I'll go find some book like you
I wish nothing but the best for you
Forget me, I will forget y
Sep 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2019
Sorry folks, I’m calling it quits on the Milkman.
DNF at 100 pages.

I have not read a lot of Man Booker prize winners so I can’t determine if it’s this book, or it’s the actual category itself. I’m more then willing to read other winners in the future to figure this out.

But back to the book.

I was hoping it would get better because it’s set in Northern Ireland during “The Troubles”. It’s not the plot. I love to read anything set in Ireland or the UK. This period during Northern Ireland has always b
Dave Schaafsma
Reread for a growing up course this Spring 2020, after rereading a second time last summer with a group of students. One of my very favorite books of 2019, and loved it again in 2020! I'll edit my review just a tad and add some notes at the end of the review to reflect my recent reading.

“’Still,' he said. 'Ach,' I said. 'Ach nothing,' he said. 'Ach sure,' I said. 'Ach sure what?' he said. 'Ach sure, if that's how you feel.' 'Ach sure, of course that's how I feel.' 'Ach all right then.' 'Ach,' he
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booker, irish

Life here, said real milkman, simply has to be lived and died in extremes.

Northern Ireland. Unnamed Belfast. The Troubles. 1970s. A young woman navigates the violent and all-consuming political conflict by trying to steer clear of it, having contrived to shut off herself, emotionally and intellectually, from the sordid reality of her surroundings. She is shaken out of her somnolence when a paramilitary leader, the eponymous Milkman, ostensibly develops an amoro
Anita Pomerantz
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
The word that springs to mind upon finishing this book is torturous. There is no doubt that this book joins, if not tops, my list of top ten worst works of literary fiction. To be honest, there is an interesting novel in here somewhere, but the voice, the voice is just completely annoying and overshadows everything else in the book. It’s original. It’s just not original in a good way.
Let’s focus on the good for a moment. The central character, Middle Sister, is narrating the tale. Her character
Milkman is one of those books where your feelings about the narrative voice will make or break the reading experience.

Set during the Troubles in Belfast in the 1970s, Milkman references that conflict obliquely, euphemistically, and occasionally directly. The real substance of Milkman however is the psychological effects of living within such conflict – the double-speak, studied nonchalance, vigilance and effort required to stay under the radar enough to get by.

It’s also about the ways in w
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long rambling story told by a teenager stalked by a scary old married guy in an occupied surveillance state. Favorite parts were Mum and maybe-boyfriend's endings. ...more
“There was food and drink. The right butter. The wrong butter. The tea of allegiance. The tea of betrayal. There were ‘our shops’ and ‘their shops’. Placenames. What school you went to. What prayers you said. What hymns you sang. How you pronounced your ‘haitch’ or ‘aitch’. Where you went to work. And of course there were bus-stops. There was the fact that you created a political statement everywhere you went, and with everything you did, even if you didn’t want to.”

I remember a saying from my
I did not always enjoy my reading (or rather listening) experience. This book combines many things I dislike in fiction: unfairness and characters that drove me up the walls being the most important factors here but also a fairly non-existent plot. But I cannot deny the genius of this book either. Anna Burns has a brilliant way with words and the atmosphere she created here is breathtaking in its claustrophobic intensity.

Told in conversational stream-of-consciousness, the language is the obvious
Lark Benobi
This week I ended up reading Lucia by Alex Pheby while listening to the audiobook of Milkman. It was quite a punch to the literary gut. Both these books accurately and relentlessly (and, somehow, beautifully, which makes them each disturbing on a whole other level) portray how sexual abuse and predation fit so easily into what seems to be normal life on the surface.

The writing style here--an elliptical returning to a very similar sentence, for instance, with a different verb substituted, plus a
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: prize-winner
Milkman by Anna Burns is the 2018 Man Booker Prize winner and was just an ok read for me didnt make it on my favourites shelf this year. While I did find it quirky I felt like the book that was trying too hard to be edgy and different and the story and characters got lost along the way.

I am interested in this period of Northern Ireland's history and Anna Burn's approach to this novel is without doubt unique and her sense of 1970 Northern Ireland and the troubles from a woman's point of view is
Paul Fulcher
Winner - rightfully so - of the 2018 Man Booker Prize!
Now winner of the International Dublin Literary Award 2020

But it was a game – more toy soldiers on toy battlefields, more toy trains in the attic, hard men in their teens, hard men in their twenties, hard men in their thirties, in their forties, with the mentality being toys even if it was far from toys these men were playing with.

The standout novel on this year's Man Booker list, Anna Burns' wonderful Milkman begins:

The day Somebody McSomebo
Roman Clodia
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 November 2020: Re-listened to the audiobook with a book group and I think this is even better the second time around: the fractured narrative means that some of the things that happen at the start (Somebody McSomebody pushing a gun into Middle Sister's breast) don't carry their full weight of significance until we can fit them into the story overall. I experienced the whole gamut of emotions once again - just a glorious piece of writing!

5 stars.
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Anna Burns (born 1962) is an Irish author. She was born in Belfast and moved to London in 1987. Her first novel, No Bones, is an account of a girl's life growing up in Belfast during the Troubles.

Winner of the 2001 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize
Shortlisted for the 2002 Orange Prize (No Bones)
Winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize (Milkman)
National Book Critics Circle Award 2019 Nominee (Milkma

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