Genres: Literary Fiction
Milkman tells the story of an unnamed girl in an unnamed city, where the social rules to belonging are strict and don’t allow for straying too far. When the gets the unwanted attention of the Milkman and becomes the center of gossip in the city, she knows she’s in danger.
It took me several days to actually finish Milkman, because this gorgeous and witty book demands focus and can be dense to read at times. There isn’t a lot of dialogue going on and the paragraphs can be long, which by no means makes it a boring read at all, just a slower one if you’re used to, say, reading thrillers or other fast-paced stories. Although this was 350 pages long, it did feel more like 450-500 pages.
This book had an atmosphere of vigilance, tension and willing ignorance of the masses which made me think of The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984. Reading this is like being stuck in the hour before a storm, with the dense air, thick and humid all around you and all you want is for the rain to come down, thunderstorm and all, if only the pressure will go away. I read this in a few sittings, and every time I stopped reading it, going back to the regular world outside felt like breathing fresh air.
Anna Burns is clearly very talented and this novel is brilliant! I loved that the main character was both sensitive and intelligent, but still trying to much to escape her reality that she literally could not remember certain things and lacked some perceptiveness to what was around her. Watching her struggle with powerlessness felt claustrophobic at times. I loved also the wee sisters, her three small sisters, who made me laugh.
I am curious now to listen to this book. Due to the way that it’s told, with sometimes jumping ahead and back in time to see some parts of the story through a certain lenses, it might be difficult to listen to this for the first time, but now that I am familiar with the story, I’d like to see what the book sounds like – because the writing is really so beautiful. It reminded me a bit on that aspect of Virginia Woolf, particularly of To The Lighthouse, whose books I also liked listening to but are easier to follow in written form.