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Anna Burns Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

No Bones (2001) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Little Constructions (2007) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Milkman (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Anna Burns is a Northern Ireland writer born and raised in the working class Catholic district of Ardoyne. She schooled at St Gemma’s High School and later relocated to London in 1987. In her first book, No Bones is a story of a girl’s life brought up in Belfast during the troubles. Due to its depiction of the daily language of the people of Belfast No Bones has been considered an important book and has been compared to Dubliners by James Joyce. The novel won the 2001 Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize issued by the Royal Society of Literature for being the best regional book of the year in both Ireland and the United Kingdom and also won the Orange Prize in 2002.

Anna Burns second book, Little Constructions published by Fourth Estate in 2007(an imprint of Harper Collins) is a darkly ironic and comic story based on a woman from a much-knit family of criminals who had a mission of vengeance. The author was awarded the Man Booker Prize for her book Milkman in 2018 making her the first Northern Irish author to win the award. After the awarding ceremony, Graywolf Press offered to publish “Milkman” in the United States. Anna Burns has also written a novella named Mostly Hero.

No Bones

No Bones is an upsetting and darkly funny story about family, sex, feelings in Ireland. Amelia brought up in a crazy family and society, cares less about what everyone has to say about her. Schoolgirls are taking guns lots of food and of course lousy sex into the school compound.

If Amelia is to stay, she has to change though she is among people who don’t know how to take care of themselves. As times goes on, we see punishment beatings, vigilantes, domestic abuse, teenage pregnancies, bombings and shootings all at family and society level.

No Bones is a depiction of the uneasy and the unsettling British army. Children come up with games from their imagination. A boy who is still a child, but ‘almost in the internment age’ makes a game with small statuettes named “forgotten prisoners” and attaches them on to the cell walls. The society finds out about the things going on behind the scenes and in the families. As she is brought up in this environment, Amelia goes down to Anorexia, alcoholism, self-abusing sexual promiscuity and later into a total mental breakdown in England. Is this as a result of the inherent violence and state of secrecy in Northern Ireland? Gangs in school, the danger of being an outsider are all over. In No Bones, you are an outsider if you cannot cause commotion due to a hunger strike.
Local gangs have their wars-but in Ireland crossing the mark draws the attention of the elders and being capped the knee is the consequence since this is a country of the ‘troubles. It is not easy to not to pity Amelia who draws victimization from all corners, from a young age. She witnesses sexual distortion at home, and as an adult, she is targeted for sexual satisfaction. Amelia is a character which is reflected in a society that had withdrawn itself as a result of years of suspicion, distrust, and divisiveness.

Little Constructions

Little Constructions is a fascinating black comedy set in Tiptoe Floorboard town controlled by a brutal criminal gang. Bound together by love and loyalty secrets and fear, the Does’ and other members of Tiptoe Floorboard make a cast of fascinating characters. They struggle to make and maintain good connections with one another. An angry woman bursts into the best-known gun shop in the town, gets a Kalashnikov rifle and incompatible ammunition and rushes out, gets into a taxi on her mission of vengeance. She is quickly followed by some other Doe’s, John Joe who is of course not a Doe, pursuing Jetty, one of the Doe’s sisters. There is a variety of names in this town, but Doe family members have names that are easily confused since most of them start with letter J.

Among the ridiculous elements, there are many darker elements such as incest, child abuse and murder Anna Burns vividly portrays. John Doe leads the ‘community Center Teamwork Executive’ in Tiptoe under Greystone, a violent criminal gang whose activities are shady. These activities happen in an underground hideout under his garden shade. This possibly explains the towns’ nickname Tiptoe under floorboards.

Joe is one of the 11 siblings; we later come to learn that the other brothers-Abel, Benedict and Samuel were soldiers of the fifth faction and this is why John’s evil activities are tolerated by those who enforce justice in that town.

To add the incestuous activities, John is married to his cousin Janet and has been having an affair with his other cousin and Janet’s sister. John and Janet have three children – Julie, Judas and Jane. Jane who is the eldest is believed to have moved out of town though Jotty thinks was murdered by her father. Others, including John, argue the existence of Jane. Janet and Jetty’s mother Jacky who is John’s aunt

Senior John had a long term affair with Jacky his sister-in-law, making Jessie to ‘accidentally’ kill him. There are rumors that either jetty or Janet or both might be senior John’s child. In John’s gang, his right-hand man is John Joe Doe and his left-hand man uncle, Joe. Uncle Joe had been beaten recently and executed by the Doe gang because of being suspected of giving some information to the authorities. His nephew suffers the same fate, watched by his girlfriend Teenage Mascot. Joe has some murderous plans towards Jimmy Jesus, who is dating Julie, his 15 years old daughter

Little Constructions is dark involving not only terrorist and criminal gangs, extortion, murder and gun running, but also child abuse, rape and incest. Anna Burns unravels Jetty’s dark secret and the reason for her obsession with the weird Jane Doe which gives the book‘s pivotal moment of narrative disclosure.

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