Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland stores sell out of Belfast author’s Man Booker novel as eager fans snap up book

by Gillian Halliday

Bookshop chain Waterstones has sold out of a Man Booker Prize-winning novel written by a Belfast-born author in all of its stores across Northern Ireland.

Waterstones reported yesterday that none of its five branches currently have any copies of Milkman, penned by Anna Burns, left on its shelves.

A spokesperson for the Belfast store in Fountain Street said they had experienced "unprecedented demand" for the novel since Ms Burns won the prize on Tuesday evening in London.

Ms Burns, who grew up in Ardoyne in north Belfast but now lives in England, is the first person from Northern Ireland to receive the major literary accolade, which is accompanied with a £50,000 award.

She was one of 13 writers nominated for the accolade.

"After the announcement we sold out of Milkman before lunchtime yesterday," Waterstones said.

"We always have interest in the Booker Prize winner but this year it has been unprecedented given it's a work by a local author. Sales of the book have increased five-fold."

The company added that all Waterstones stores were in the same position, with a fresh supply of copies expected to arrive as soon as possible.

"All Northern Ireland branches have sold out," it said.

"Hopefully we will have more copies back on sale again this weekend."

Eason in Belfast also reported selling out its entire stock of the book by yesterday afternoon.

"We've had a lot of interest in the book," the company said.

"We initially had between 20 to 30 copies for sale but with all of the publicity we've increased that and we're expecting around 160 copies in store this weekend."

The store, however, was unable to confirm whether or not its other six branches have also sold out.

Milkman is set in the Troubles in the 1970s and tells the story of sexual coercion in a controlling society told from the point of view of a young female protagonist.

The experimental novel, which has garnered stylistic comparisons to James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, is narrated by an unnamed 18-year-old girl, known as "middle sister".

She is being pursued by a much older paramilitary figure, known as "the milkman" in an unspecified city, which is believed to be Belfast.

It is expected that sales of Milkman are to substantially increase across the UK and Ireland in line with previous Man Booker winners.

Last year's winner, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, experienced a sales increase of 1,227% after it claimed the literary prize.

Belfast Telegraph

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