Man Booker Prize For Fiction Won By Anna Burns
Man Booker Prize For Fiction Won By Anna Burns: Anna Burns won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction Tuesday with “Milkman,” a vibrant, violent story about men, women, conflict and power set during Northern Ireland’s years of Catholic-Protestant violence.
Burns is the first writer from Northern Ireland to win the 50,000-pound ($66,000) prize, which is open to English-language authors from around the world. She received her trophy from Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, during a black-tie ceremony at London’s medieval Guildhall.
“I think it’s a very powerful novel about the damage and danger of rumor,” philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the judging panel said.
Burns beat five other novelists, including the bookies’ favorites: American writer Richard Powers’ tree-centric eco-epic “The Overstory” and Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan’s “Washington Black,” the story of a slave who escapes from a sugar plantation in a hot-air balloon.
The other finalists were U.S. novelist Rachel Kushner’s “The Mars Room,” set in a women’s prison; Robin Robertson’s “The Long Take,” a verse novel about a traumatized D-Day veteran; and 27-year-old British author Daisy Johnson’s Greek tragedy-inspired family saga “Everything Under.”
Founded in 1969, the Man Booker 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 Man Booker has a reputation for transforming writers’ careers, and the one who will emerge from the field to beat other finalists is always subject to intense speculation and lively betting. Previous winners include Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, Arundhati Roy and Hilary Mantel.
It’s likely to bring a big boost to Burns, who is 56-years-old and has two previous published novels, but is hardly a household name.
“Milkman” appears on the printed page as a continuous torrent with few paragraph marks, which has led some to label it experimental and challenging. But Appiah said the vivid, distinctive Belfast language in Burns’ book was “really worth savoring.”
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