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Belfast author Anna Burns among Man Booker Prize finalists

Burns has been shortlisted for her novel, Milkman, set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Image: PA Archive/PA Images

NORTHERN IRISH AUTHOR Anna Burns is among six finalists announced today for the Man Booker Prize for fiction.

Burns has been shortlisted for her novel, Milkman, set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  

The shortlist features four women and two men with each of the entries covering a wide range of subjects, from a D-Day veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder to an 11-year-old slave escaping a Barbados sugar plantation. 

Born in Belfast and currently living in East Sussex, Burns is also the author of No Bones and Little Constructions.

Milkman sees the protagonist, middle-sister, trying to keep her mother from discovering her boyfriend and keeping everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. 

“The language of Anna Burns’ Milkman is simply marvellous; beginning with the distinctive and consistently realised voice of the funny, resilient, astute, plain-spoken, first-person protagonist.

“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, negotiating a way between the demands of family, friends and lovers in an unsettled time,” Chair of judges Kwame Anthony Appiah said. 

2018 Man Booker Prize The shortlisted books at the Man Booker Prize 2018 Source: Yui Mok

UK poet Robin Robertson’s verse novel about violence and social division in contemporary America, The Long Take, and US novelist Richard Powers’ eco-saga The Overstory — whose characters are both human and arboreal — are on a list that includes three UK authors, two Americans and a Canadian.

The Long Take is one of two debut novels on the list, alongside Everything Under, a story of words and memory by British writer Daisy Johnson. At 27, Johnson is the youngest-ever Booker finalist.

US writer Rachel Kushner’s gritty women’s prison story The Mars Room is also a finalist. Washington Black, the saga of an escaped slave by Canada’s Esi Edugyan.

The prize, subject to intense speculation and a flurry of betting, usually brings the victor a huge boost in sales and profile.

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This year’s judges have favoured new talent over more established names. Of the six finalists, only Edugyan has been nominated before, and favourites including Canada’s Michael Ondaatje didn’t make the cut from the 13-novel longlist.

2018 Man Booker Prize The panel of judges (left to right) Jacqueline Rose, Kwame Anthony Appiah (Chair), Val McDermid, Leo Robson and Leanne Shapton during the Man Booker Prize 2018 shortlist announcement. Source: Yui Mok

Founded in 1969, the prize was originally open to British, Irish and Commonwealth writers. Americans have been eligible since 2014, and there have been two American winners — Paul Beatty’s “The Sellout” in 2016 and George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo” in 2017.

The winner of the £50,000  prize will be announced on Oct. 16 during a black-tie dinner at London’s Guildhall.

With reporting from Associated Press 

About the author:

Adam Daly

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