A Novel

Book - 2018 | First Graywolf printing
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Apr 30, 2021

'Sawright, but just didn't grab me despite all the great reviews and friendly recommendations.

Jan 24, 2021

OMG! Life is too short. Gave up after 125 pages.

Nov 17, 2020

I gave up at page 78. I didn't like the story and didn't care about any of the characters. The story didn't capture me, in fact, I dreaded having to pick up the book and continue. I prefer books that take me away, totally engross me and that I can't put down. I had no trouble putting this book down for days and permanently. It was torture to read it and I didn't feel like torturing my brain anymore.

I had so looked forward to reading this book as it was recommended by my book club coordinator. I am also very interested in Northern Ireland, having ancestors from there and having visited in 2006. The UK's Guardsman claimed it was funny, which is totally misleading. I didn't find it funny at all. It was a dark, depressing story. And yes I already know quite well from my readings about the Troubles that it was a dark, depressing time. I visited the memorials in Belfast. I stayed at a B&B in Falls Road where the proprietor's childhood friend had been gunned down right outside the door.

I didn't care at all for the author's writing style. It was like reading the ramblings of a disturbed person. It was difficult to read --- it didn't flow and was very choppy and meandering. I'm shocked this book won a prize. It was a complete waste of my time. If I had known the book was a mess and downer, I would not have bothered to read it. Maybe I have read all I can about the Troubles and can no longer stomach the subject. Very disappointed. Oh, well, I only paid $4.50 for a used copy but now I wish I had used that money to buy a book I really wanted to read.

Nov 14, 2020

A fascinating story that reveals the daily grind of tension, mistrust and violence during the troubles in Belfast. This price-winning novel is truly a gem but a long, slow read as the narration is somewhat a stream of consciousness in the Irish dialect, very wordy and requires some patience. If it could have been even slightly condensed I’d have loved to highly recommend it with a five-star rating.

Nov 04, 2020

I applaud those who could read and finish this book. I found the writing style irritating and hard to follow. Additionally I could make no connection w/ any of the characters. I just couldn't see the value of trudging on.

Oct 04, 2020

I was mesmerized by this book. It was a slow read but difficult to put down. Came to know Middle Sister's worlds, internal & external, completely. I think Milkman is a modern classic

Aug 23, 2020

One doesn't read literary fiction expecting to have an easy time of it and as I began this novel I questioned if I would be able to get through it. The narrator identifies herself only as middle sister and indeed everyone in the book goes by a vague moniker including the title character and he isn't even an actual milkman. The sentences are long and meandering in a kind of stream of consciousness way. However as I grew accustomed to her voice I was drawn into middle sister's world and the ways in which she sees it. During the times of the troubles in Northern Ireland she seeks to escape by reading old novels while walking through her neighborhood, trying to ignore the world around her. This quirky behavior backfires and draws attention from the locals including a well known insurgent nicknamed the Milkman. Her attempts to avoid him play out against a backdrop of violence. As the story is told we also learn of her iffy relationship with an young auto mechanic, the complexities of her immediate family life, her parent's history and relationship and the stories of several other residents of this unnamed town. Middle sister's round about way of communicating proves insightful and blackly humorous. By the end I was glad I stuck with middle sister and her unique view of a complicated world.

patcumming Apr 26, 2020

Agree that this is not an easy read but worth the effort. The stream of consciousness style can be a slog but a poignant tale nonetheless. There are moments of hilarity in this story about a violent and tragic time.

Apr 03, 2020

I had to keep reminding myself as I was reading this Booker Man award winning novel, that it was not an autobiography. Written in the first person, this novel describes a period in the life of an eighteen year old girl living in the divided community of Belfast during the political Troubles of the 1970's. The author is so adept at revealing the thoughts, emotions, actions of her characters and how living in a closed community with its own rules and controlling forces affects them. She also is very good in capturing the Irish way of speaking which is a reminder that the novel is set in Ireland, not in some imaginary dystopian land created by the author. What surprised me was the attitude of the characters towards their own paramilitary groups, recognizing them as terrorists yet sorrowful when they died as often they were their own boys.
Through the interactions of her main characters with those in the community, the author skillfully shows the age-old political and religious conflict that had been evident for centuries between the two groups - the Irish and the British. Since the story is told from a female perspective with little physical action/adventure, but much suggestion of violence, I think this novel would appeal more to female than to male readers.

Mar 12, 2020

This was a difficult read but is worth the effort- as I understand it is an excellent audible book

Dec 31, 2019

Brilliant novel by a brilliant writer. She captured the times of "The Troubles" succinctly. Her novel approach in this work was so fun. I can't understand a single critical review declaring this a "difficult" read. It was simply fantastic.

Dec 03, 2019

I just could not do this. I'd like to have liked it. Although it is smart and innovative, my reading appetites are more traditional.

Aug 24, 2019

I loved this book. Granted it’s not a quick read, but well worth it, to luxuriate in the language and depth of thought. It’s a ‘stream of consciousness ‘ from the mind of our protagonist, a young woman in the midst of “the Troubles “ in 1970’s Belfast, so we don’t get tidy paragraphs and short chapters. If you can cope with that style, you will find yourself drawn in and rewarded. The violence, fear, loss of life is somehow mitigated by the fierce loyalties and elemental “justices” meted out in the tightly knit community, plus some very humorous expressions and encounters. I felt right inside her mind, and even seemed to hear her accent as she recounts her experiences. A worthy recipient of the Man Booker Prize.

Aug 23, 2019

Milkman is perhaps a more emotionally, than intellectually, difficult read, as the author deftly pulls the reader into the guarded, hyper-vigilant paranoia of 18 year old "middle sister" who
attempts to maintain a tenuous grasp on a "normal" life. Set in a large, un-named city in Northern Ireland during the violent "Troubles" during the 1970's; "middle sister's" thought
processes frames her coping with violent death and depression as she attempts to screen out
chronic surveillance by the occupying loyalists and resistance factions and the predatory stalking by an older, powerful member of a resistance faction, by reading while running. The community at large considers any attempts toward normalcy as being suspicious and "beyond
the pale".

As difficult as this book was to read; I found this to be a fascinating look at how a community's
culture, values and gender roles are impacted a by long term violence. It was a worthwhile read that will stay with me.

Aug 02, 2019

Interesting but started to give me a headache - did finish finally but at a cost

mhplleanne Aug 01, 2019

It was difficult to read, BUT I loved how it described The Troubles without really being blunt. The writing was compelling. I just had a hard time getting through it because there were so few paragraphs - if I was tired, I couldn't concentrate for more than a few pages. I really enjoyed the characters and the story.

Jul 08, 2019

Original writing but not easy reading. In talking to my sister who has been to Northern Ireland it captures beautifully the paranoia, fear and violence of The Troubles which have lasted until today.

May 24, 2019

namelessness makes sense in this difficult story of crazy-making times
I admit to getting lost but then again finding my way through the dangers, the exasperation, and the dark humour among the families and neighborhoods under siege.
the novel was both specific and universal

May 23, 2019

Unreadable. Gave up after 100 pages. Not interesting and unbelievably pretentious.

Tigard_SeanG May 06, 2019

With "Milkman," Anna Burns stands beside other great novelists of Ireland's Troubles such as J.G. Farrell and Thomas Flanagan.

May 06, 2019

Fascinating story about the “troubles” in Northern Ireland during the 1970s, written from the perspective of a determined teenage girl. Both interesting and unusual.

Apr 28, 2019

Man Booker Winner. This novel is set in the 1970s in Northern Ireland, but it could be any time, any place characterized by violence, patriarchy and an authoritarian or tribal culture. No names are used, which means it could be anywhere. The story is told by an 18 year old girl who "absents" herself from her environment. The almost stream of consciousness means that the reader becomes immersed in this world. Interesting and a worthy Booker winner.

Apr 25, 2019

Terrific feminist antiwar novel.

Apr 13, 2019

Difficult to read but clever and rather sucked me into it's craziness

Apr 02, 2019

Wonderful. Quirky, original, menacing, moving. A glimpse into the lives of communities affected by the Troubles in Ireland, and a moving testament to human endurance and coping.

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