06 December 2018, The Tablet

Anna Burns' Milkman is a surreal portrait of her society


Anna Burns
(AUDIBLE £19.99)

The protagonist of this novel is a stubborn girl. She resists the world around her. She buries her head in nineteenth-century novels as she walks; she refuses her mother’s nagging to marry; she insists on deeds regarded by her community as lunatic – rescuing a dismembered cat’s head from bomb rubble, for example, and burying it decently. Nevertheless, when the sinister Milkman turns his attentions on her, she can’t resist. One of the terrorist “renouncers” who run her 1970s Catholic Northern Irish neighbourhood, he is so powerful that he convinces everyone that she has submitted to his sexual attentions. Though she hasn’t, he almost destroys her.

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