Milkmanby Anna Burns (Faber & Faber) has been announced as the winner of the 50th Man Booker Prize.
Burns, 56, who was born in Belfast and lives in East Sussex, drew on the experience of Northern Ireland during the Troubles to write Milkman. Her first acclaimed novel, No Bones, was also set in this period. She saw off competition from two British writers, two American writers and one Canadian writer.
‘None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkmanexplores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.’
– Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges
Set in an unnamed city, Milkman focuses on middle sister as she navigates her way through rumour, social pressures and politics in a tight-knit community. Burns shows the dangerous and complex outcome that can happen to a woman coming of age in a city at war.
The Man Booker International Prize recognises one writer for his or her achievement in fiction. Worth £60,000 to the winner, the prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
The ten authors under consideration for this 2015 prize are:
César Aira (Argentina)
Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)
Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe)
Mia Couto (Mozambique)
Amitav Ghosh (India)
Fanny Howe (United States of America)
Ibrahim al-Koni (Libya)
László Krasznahorkai (Hungary)
Alain Mabanckou (Republic of Congo)
Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa)
The finalists were announced at the University of Cape Town in South Africa by the chair of judges, Professor Marina Warner, who commented:
‘The judges have had an exhilarating experience reading for this prize; we have ranged across the world and entered the vision of writers who offer an extraordinary variety of experiences. Fiction can enlarge the world for us all and stretch our understanding and our sympathy. The novel today is in fine form: as a field of inquiry, a tribunal of history, a map of the heart, a probe of the psyche, a stimulus to thought, a well of pleasure and a laboratory of language. Truly, we feel closer to the tree of knowledge.’
Previous winners have been Lydia Davis (2013), Philip Roth (2011), Alice Munro (2009), Chinua Achebe (2007) and Ismail Kadare (2005).
The 2015 winner will be announced in London on 19 May.