Booker prize awarded to challenging novel Milkman by Anna Burns as judges

He read the book out loud to himself during the judges’ third reading and said it proved a “very rewarding” activity, but was at pains to point out that he had no personal difficulty understanding the text.”I spend my time reading articles in The Journal of Philosophy. By my standards, this is not too hard,” he said.Burns is the first female winner since Eleanor Catton in 2013. Already in paperback, Milkman had sold 4,859 copies by last night, but the win will give it a welcome boost.The other shortlisted books were Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Overstory by Richard Powers and The Long Take by Robin Robertson. If this year’s experimental Man Booker Prize winner seems too challenging a read, don’t worry – even the judges think you could wait for the audiobook instead.Milkman by Anna Burns, the first Northern Irish author to claim the £50,000 prize, draws on her experience of living through the Troubles and is written in the first person by a nameless young woman known only as “middle sister”.Kwame Anthony Appiah, chairman of the judges, said: “It is not a light read. It is a challenge in the way a walk up Snowdon is challenging – it’s definitely worth it because the view is terrific when you get to the top.”Asked if the style and language could prove off-putting to some readers, Appiah said: “Lots of people nowadays take in novels through audiobooks and I think this is a novel that will certainly reward that.”He went on: “I do commend to people who find it difficult to read it out loud. It gives it that other dimension, and also slows you down a bit.”Appiah a philosopher and writer, said reading aloud was probably not advisable on public transport but “I have never thought of being readable on the Tube as a really important property of a novel. Do it on your own somewhere – you don’t want people to think you’re crazy.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more