Skip to content

Milkman Delivers Man Booker Prize 2018

On Tuesday 16 October, Milkman by Anna Burns was announced as the winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It is her third full-length novel and her first major award. She is also the first Northern Irish author to win.

About the book

Milkman is set is an unnamed city. Middle sister, the protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…

Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.

On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author can expect international recognition, plus a dramatic increase in book sales. In the week following the 2017 winner announcement, sales of Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders increased by 1227%. Bloomsbury has to date sold just under ¼ million copies globally across all formats, 70% of those sales coming after the win.

What the judges said

Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges, comments:

“None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

Reading group review

Over the last few weeks, reading groups have been shadowing the shortlisted books and writing reviews online. Take a look at what the Preschool Parents’ Book Club thought of Milkman.

You can see an extract from one of the reviews for Milkman below, and see all of the reviews on the book’s page.

Our own winner

Libraries all over the country have been competing for the best Man Booker Prize display. The displays, which you can see in our Facebook album, showed incredible creativity and originality, and the winner was announced as One College in Suffolk.

Get involved

Find out more about all of the shortlisted titles, download a themed booklist for Milkman, and take a look at the Readers’ Guides.

What do you think of the winner? Were you surprised? Share your thoughts online using #ManBooker2018 and tagging @readingagency.

Read all about our shadow reading groups, and sign up for our free newsletter so next time it could be your group!

Take a look at the brilliant #ManBooker2018 displays from libraries across the UK.


Log in or Sign up to add a comment


Radio 2 Book Club - Winter titles

The Winter season of the Radio 2 Book Club is out now, with brilliant brand-new fiction titles to discover. The BBC Radio 2 Book Club is on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show. It features a wide range of titles and authors, recommending great reads from both new and much-loved writers, encouraging listeners to perhaps try out a genre they might not have read before, and share their opinions and insights on the titles and great reads they’re enjoying right now.


How to start a reading group

Interested in joining a reading group or starting one of your own? Download our quick guide to getting started. You can also download icebreaker questions to help get your discussion started, and a social media guide to show how you can share your reading with others online.


Discussion guides

We know how useful a discussion guide is for your book club meeting, so here you’ll find some recent guides provided by publishers. Free to download, you can use them to help choose your next book and guide your discussion.

View our other programmes