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Anna Burns wins Man Booker Prize; Kiese Laymon on returning to Mississippi

Anna Burns

Anna Burns’s Milkman has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize, making Burns the first Northern Irish author to win. “None of us has ever read anything like this before,” said judging chair Kwame Anthony Appiah. “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.” The Guardian’s Claire Amistad writes that although the story, which draws on Burns’s experiences growing up in Ireland during the Troubles, “is relentlessly internalised” and lacks “conventions such as paragraphing,” the book is “a plucky and challenging one . . . that speaks directly to the #MeToo era and to political anxieties over hard borders in Ireland and elsewhere.” Graywolf has moved the book’s US publication date from fall 2019 to December 11.

PEN America is suing President Trump in order to stop him “from using the machinery of government to retaliate or threaten reprisals against journalists and media outlets for coverage he dislikes.”

Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties is being turned into a TV show by FX.

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott reviews Marielle Heller’s new movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me, based on “writer turned literary forger” Lee Israel’s memoir.

At BuzzFeed News, Bim Adewunmi profiles Heavy author Kiese Laymon. “Not many people run back,” Laymon said of his decision to move back to Mississippi from upstate New York. Now a creative writing professor at the University of Mississippi, Laymon had been teaching at Vassar. “I kept writing about Mississippi but then I was like, man, I’m writing about this shit all the time but is it really home any more?” But “it was a sick grandmama and the feeling that he had outgrown Vassar that compelled his return,” Adewunmi explains. “I needed to finish my book and I just couldn’t,” Laymon said. “I came back to be closer to the place that made me and made my grandmama, it made my mama. I just needed . . . I needed help. . . . I should’ve gone to therapy but instead I came back to Mississippi.”