Told in stream-of-consciousness prose and set against the backdrop of the Troubles, Milkman doesn't offer much of a plot, but it does provide a perceptive and intelligent look at a community under duress and constant surveillance. It also starts with these stellar opening lines: "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.
Though I loved the narrator's sharp observational commentary, even I found the narrative style painfully long-winded at times. Paragraphs go on for pages; chapters go on for hours; the kind of concentration it takes to really immerse yourself in this novel can be draining. This is not what anyone would describe as an easy read, and I think it's the kind of book that's going to fall under the category of 'I appreciated it but I didn't like it' for a lot of people.
This line of thought actually made me reflect on what it means to 'like' a book, because I wouldn't describe my reading experience as 'fun,' necessarily, but despite that, I found Milkman incredibly rewarding. Anna Burns deftly crafts a living, breathing community, and paints a portrait of the realities of living in a city torn apart by civil unrest. Rumors and false perceptions dog these characters, and our narrator in particular, who's considered an oddity, a 'beyond-the-pale,' due to the fact that she often reads while walking.
In order to fit in in a society like this, every time you leave the house you have to bury a part of yourself, and Milkman incisively and comprehensively examines the toll that takes. I don't know if I've ever read another novel that so expertly evokes the kind of anxiety that comes from the inability to trust your neighbor or even your own family.
Characters in this novel operate under a veil of formality that you as a reader want to peel back to reveal their genuine hopes and fears and aspirations, but of course all you're able to do is mutely watch them navigate social situations while unable to truly express themselves.
This book can be infuriating because of that, but it's supposed to be. There's also an undeniably feminist undercurrent to the whole thing, as the narrator laments the difficulties unique to women during this time, though it remains a subtle element throughout. This is a recognizably Irish novel, from its stream-of-consciousness prose to its pitch-black humor, and there's no question that that played a huge role in my ultimate enjoyment of it, so above all else I think I'd recommend this to anyone who loves Irish lit and Irish history, but who can tolerate a lack of plot and likes their novels a bit on the philosophical side.
Personally, I'll be thrilled if this is shortlisted for the Booker, but I also doubt that likelihood as it's not the kind of novel that's destined to reach a wide audience - not that the Booker necessarily prioritizes accessibility, but I would just find it unlikely if all five judges are in complete agreement about this one's merits enough to advance it. But who knows.
This had already been on my radar before the longlist announcement, but I'm very happy that it pushed me to read it sooner than I otherwise would have. I think it's going to win! View all 48 comments. Elaine H I'm not a writer or a reviewer I have 20 pages to go Rachel LeAnne: wrote: "Adored this book in audio format!
The inside joke is that no character was named, nor the city or even the country, because in the Tro LeAnne: wrote: "Adored this book in audio format!
The provocation had seemed irrationally small. He had convicted killers on less. Technical and computer forensics experts are now assisting with the investigation. Retrieved June 28, Suddenly, she hears the scratching come from above.
The inside joke is that no character was named, nor the city or even the country, because in the Troubles of the s, nobody had any business naming names : God So glad you loved this as well. I've heard nothing but good things about the audiobook so I think I may give it a shot one of these days!
And I'd like to read her other books as well, she's such a talent. Mary wrote: "Reading the Milkman was tedious. I loved it in the beginning but later felt like I was inside as crack heads brain. I hope you didn't find that sticking with it was an entirely wasted effort!
Trish wrote: "What a thoughtful and creative review of this unique book!! You did it justice! Well done! High praise x Maya wrote: "Really good review! Helped me understand more why i find it difficult to form a solid opinion about this novel! It's a tricky one - but I find that the books that make me question why I read tend to be some of the most memorable.
Elaine wrote: "I'm not a writer or a reviewer It's definitely a tricky one to recommend - I want everyone to read it but I can also see where it would be infuriating for a lot of people.
Mar 30, Jim Fonseca rated it really liked it Shelves: northern-ireland , irish-authors. This book is a current favorite for winning the Man Booker Prize in At the time I write early the book already has 13, rating on GR and more than 2, reviews. The author was born in , so she lived in the Belfast during all this time and was ten at the time of peak violence, Every family in the story is touched by the violence in some way — and in those days, Catholics had large families.
Daily life is shaped by the conflict. Her maybe-boyfriend is in trouble for holding on to a British-made car part. Paramilitary guys on each side hold kangaroo courts to keep their people in line. There are constant camera clicks as authorities take pictures from behind trees and in parked cars. Middle Sister is odd and stands out — a mistake in that environment.
She jogs and she reads while she walks. She attracts the attention of a paramilitary guy — know as the Milkman, who stalks her. I gave it a 4, rather than a 5. It was quite good but it did seem to drag out a bit - a 4.
Top photo:IRA men going to plant a bomb, , from belfasttelegraph. From irishtimes.
https://deccakaberva.tk View all 20 comments. Feb 26, Violet wells 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 Many writers strive for a fresh vibrant distinctive voice; few achieve it as well as Anna Burns does in this novel. And this bigotry is mocked relentlessly with often hilarious biting ingenious satire. No one in the novel gets a name as if names in this world are meaningless. Everyone is tagged, like walls. Milkman himself, probably a candidate for most sinister villain of the decade, isn't a milkman at all.
He's the sum total of fearful rumour, a veritable stalking bogeyman. Two things though are certain. Firstly, he possesses intimidating authority as an enforcer of the repressive status quo. And secondly, he drives a white van, one of misogyny's most benign yet potent symbols. When he begins driving alongside our narrator who likes to read while walking her autonomy, identity and living space all suddenly shrink under his menacing interest. Though there's no overt sexual harassment the narrator explains her predicament - "At the time, age eighteen, having been brought up in a hair-trigger society where the ground rules were - if no physically violent touch was being laid upon you, and no outright verbal insults were being levelled at you, and no taunting looks in the vicinity either, then nothing was happening, so how could you be under attack from something that wasn't there?
At eighteen I had no proper understanding of the ways that constituted encroachment. What everyone most fears is the opinion of their neighbours. Because this is an us and them world which permits no nuance of allegiance. You're either with us or you're against us. Everyday life is an obstacle course of not providing the local gossip mongers any reason to single you out. To be singled out is to invite suspicions of belonging to them, not us. The narrator's "maybe boyfriend" gets into trouble when he wins part of a Bentley car in a raffle. To his neighbours this small piece of engineering is a symbol of "the country over the water".
This scene is one of the many brilliant withering mockeries of mob mentality, ideological paranoia and the underhand blood lust innate in draconian repressive measures.