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While Northern Ireland has only been separate from Ireland since 1921, the United Kingdom region has developed its own identity, one whose literature often reflects the country's dual nature.
None of the characters or even the location are ever named in this third novel from Anna Burns, but it’s most likely 1970s Belfast — the epicenter of The Troubles — where the author grew up. The 18-year-old narrator attempts to navigate community gossip and the sociopolitical issues of the day, unwittingly becoming the center of rumors when a married man takes an interest in her. The first novel by a Northern Irish author to win the Booker Prize, Milkman was also the first winner of the inaugural Orwell Prize for Political Fiction.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland
Named one of the best books of 2019 by The Washington Post and Barack Obama, Keefe’s narrative focuses on smaller crimes that reflect the overarching “Troubles” that assailed Northern Ireland for decades. Although nonfiction, the book reads like a novel, thanks to Keefe’s storytelling chops. With Brexit looming just ahead, the subject of national identity and secession makes for a timely read.
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