LONDON—Irish writer Anna Burns won the 2018 Man Booker Prize on Tuesday for Milkman, her third full-length novel.
Set in an unnamed city during the bloody "Troubles" of Northern Ireland, Milkman tells the coming-of-age story of a young, bookish girl, who begins an affair with the Milkman—an older paramilitary figure.
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 ($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 humour. 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 recognises 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.
The Irish Times reported that Burns almost did not finish the novel because of the physical pain she suffers caused by complications during surgery.
Burns is the first woman writer to win the prize since Eleanor Catton won for The Luminaries in 2013.
The other books on the shortlist were The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Long Take by Robin Robertson, Everything Under by Daisy Johnson, Washington by Esi Edugyan and The Overstory by Richard Powers.