Belfast-born author Anna Burns has been awarded one of the world’s most valuable literary prizes. Her novel Milkman, set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, has won the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award. The award comes with prize money of €100,000 making it the world’s largest prize for a novel published in English.
The novel has previously won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2018. Anna Burns was the first Northern Irish novelist to win that prize and is now the first to win the International Dublin Literary Award in its 25-year history. Milkman is her third novel, but she has also written a novella called Mostly Hero.
Anna Burns was born in Belfast in 1962 but now lives in Sussex in England. In a virtual acceptance speech for the Dublin Literary Award, Ms. Burns said winning it was “an extraordinary honor”. She also spoke about how important Belfast’s libraries had been for her. “I have prominent memories of my childhood Saturdays when I would go to the library with my aunt and we’d make good on our tickets and oftentimes not just our own,” she said.
The award is sponsored by Dublin City Council – Dublin’s Lord Mayor Hazel Chu said that Milkman had beaten off competition from a very strong shortlist of novels by writers from Canada, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Poland, the UK, and the USA.