Have you ever wondered what it's like to live in a society where violence, fear, and rumors rule your life? If so, you might want to read Milkman, a novel by Anna Burns that won the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
Milkman is set in an unnamed city (probably Belfast) in 1970s Northern Ireland, during the height of the Troubles: a conflict between nationalists and loyalists over the political status of the region. The novel follows the story of an 18-year-old woman, known only as middle sister, who tries to navigate her way through a world of gossip, hearsay, and silence.
Middle sister is different from most people in her community. She reads while walking, for one thing. And she has been taking French night classes downtown, for another. She also has a maybe-boyfriend, a mechanic who doesn't belong to any paramilitary group. But her life changes when she attracts the attention of a 41-year-old man, known as milkman, who is a powerful and dangerous member of the renouncers: the local separatist faction.
Milkman starts to stalk middle sister, offering her rides, following her around, and threatening to kill her maybe-boyfriend. He makes it clear that he knows everything about her habits and schedule. He also implies that he wants to have an affair with her. Middle sister is terrified and disgusted by milkman's advances, but she doesn't know how to get rid of him. She tries to ignore him, to avoid him, to reason with him. But nothing works.
To make matters worse, the whole neighborhood starts to believe that middle sister is indeed having an affair with milkman. The rumors spread like wildfire, and soon even her own family and friends turn against her. Middle sister becomes isolated, depressed, and paranoid. She feels like she has no one to trust or talk to. She wonders if she is going crazy.
Milkman is a novel that explores the themes of identity, power, and resistance in a society where conformity and obedience are expected and enforced. It is a novel that challenges the reader to question the norms and values of a culture that is shaped by violence and fear. It is also a novel that showcases the voice and perspective of a young woman who refuses to give up her individuality and agency in the face of oppression and harassment.
Milkman is a novel that will make you think, feel, and empathize with its protagonist. It is a novel that will make you want to read more about the history and politics of Northern Ireland. It is a novel that will make you appreciate the power and beauty of literature.
If you are looking for a book that is original, engaging, and insightful, you should definitely read Milkman by Anna Burns.