Top positive review
Anna Burns brings her unique style of writing in this booker prize winner.
22 November 2018
The anticipation, the chill running down the spine, the sense of constantly being watched, the constant jumpiness - she felt all that and worse. Set during the late 20th century in Northern Ireland, Milkman is the story of a teen girl who is harassed by society and harangued by her family and friends about her rumored illicit relationship with the ‘old enough to be her father’, dangerous, and married ‘Renouncer hero Milkman’.
This book caught my attention after being nominated for and having won the Booker Prize in 2018. It took some warming up to. Anna Burns brings her unique style of writing. The entire book is written from the point of the protagonist - the ‘Middle Sister’. There are barely any names in the book with each character being addressed by their relationship to this ‘Middle-Sister’ or their roles in the society. I found this aspect quite unique (and easy for someone who has trouble remembering names :D). The story revolves around her, her family, her maybe relation with her maybe boyfriend, the society, the rumours about her supposed relationship with the Milkman, the people over-the-street, the people over-the-waters, the political unrest further worsened by the paramilitaries, the renouncers, and the state.
Anna Burns goes to great lengths to set the context, giving pages and chapters on the political situation, the functioning of the society, its norms, its outcasts. What I liked about the book was the author’s description of how a seemingly innocent rumour upsets the life of a girl, who is happy in her small little world. This is very real and I am sure many readers would relate to the premise of the story.
Milkman was no easy read. The sentences were painstakingly long, albeit eloquent and articulate; a ‘full stop’ almost as rare as the blue moon. My only grouse with the book is that I would have loved to read a little more about the antagonist and probably a little into his background. The timing and the manner of his ending was a little too abrupt and focus of the story shifted in the last 20% of the book.
In a nutshell, if you decide to read the book, be patient. It picks up pace towards the end.