Top positive review
8 August 2018
I found Milkman relentless, irritating, exhausting, repetitive, circular, and yet I had to finish it. Full marks then for narrative thrust.
The scenario of entrapment by parochial ignorance and wordless expectations, silence and conformity, is familiar, in this case set in the 1970s when the northern Irish troubles were serious. Depriving characters and places of identifying names, recognising people by their position in a hierarchy and places by their politico-geographic position (over the water) is clever —— and maybe that is the novel’s strength.
Anna Burns is a clever writer, entertaining with writerly skill, while forcing us to recognise in a novel about the boringly recognisable banality we endure, how the end of the world will creep up on us, like a misogynist stalker in the park, like all those protagonists involved in the violent 1970s of Northern Ireland, like Trump and other populists who are so fixed on their egos not even causing the end of life on the planet will stop them.