Anna Burns wins Booker Prize with Troubles tale 'Milkman'

British author Anna Burns holds her book 'Milkman' during a photocall at the Royal Festival Hall in London on October 14, 2018, ahead of Tuesday's announcement of the winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction. (AFP)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Anna Burns wins Booker Prize with Troubles tale 'Milkman'

  • This year’s shortlist was made up of writers from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States

LONDON: “Milkman” by writer Anna Burns scooped the 2018 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday, with the Northern Irish writer winning the literary award for her third full-length novel.
Set in an unnamed city during the bloody “Troubles” of Northern Ireland, the “Milkman” tells the coming-of-age story of a young girl’s affair with an older man.
As winner, the 56-year-old writer, who was born in Belfast, received the award from Prince Charles’ wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as 50,000 pounds ($65,900).
“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,” philosopher and novelist Kwame Anthony Appiah, who chaired the prize’s panel of judges, said in a statement.
“It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humor. Set in a society divided against itself, ‘Milkman’ explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”
Established in 1969, the annual literary prize recognizes the judges choice of “the best original novel written in English and published in the UK.”
This year’s shortlist was made up of writers from the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.


No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

Updated 20 January 2019
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No politics please for Baghdad bikers aiming to unite Iraq

  • That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics
  • The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths

BAGHDAD: Roaring along Baghdad’s highways, the “Iraq Bikers” are doing more than showing off their love of outsized motorcycles and black leather: they want their shared enthusiasm to help heal Iraq’s deep sectarian rifts.
Weaving in and out of traffic, only the lucky few ride Harley Davidsons — a rare and expensive brand in Iraq — while others make do with bikes pimped-up to look something like the “Easy Rider” dream machines.
“Our goal is to build a brotherhood,” said Bilal Al-Bayati, 42, a government employee who founded the club in 2012 with the aim of improving the image of biker gangs and to promote unity after years of sectarian conflict.
That is why the first rule of his bikers club is: you do not talk about politics.
“It is absolutely prohibited to talk politics among members,” Bayati told Reuters as he sat with fellow bikers in a shisha cafe, a regular hangout for members.
“Whenever politics is mentioned, the members are warned once or twice and then expelled. We no longer have the strength to endure these tragedies or to repeat them,” he said, referring to sectarian violence.
With his black bandana and goatee, the leader of the Baghdad pack, known as “Captain,” looks the epitome of the American biker-outlaw.
But while their style is unmistakably US-inspired — at least one of Bayati’s cohorts wears a helmet emblazoned with the stars and stripes — these bikers fly the Iraqi flag from the panniers of their machines.
The Iraq Bikers — who now number 380 — are men of all ages, social classes and various faiths. One of their most recent events was taking party in Army Day celebrations.
Some are in the military, the police and even the Popular Mobilization Forces, a grouping of mostly Shiite militias which have taken part in the fight to oust Islamic State from Iraq in the last three years.
“It is a miniature Iraq,” said member Ahmed Haidar, 36, who works with an international relief agency.
But riding a chopper through Baghdad is quite different from Route 101. The bikers have to slow down at the many military checkpoints set up around the city to deter suicide and car bomb attacks.
And very few can afford a top bike.
“We don’t have a Harley Davidson franchise here,” said Kadhim Naji, a mechanic who specializes in turning ordinary motorbikes into something special.
“So what we do is we alter the motorbike, so it looks similar ... and it is cheaper.”