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Anna Burns says Booker Prize-winning novel was not intentionally political

Anna Burns on stage at the Guildhall in London. Credit: PA

Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns has said she did not set out to write a political novel.

The first ever Northern Irish winner of the prestigious award said that the issues of gender and sexual coercion in prize-winning book Milkman are the result of inspiration, not conviction.

Belfast-born Burns, 56, said her story of an 18-year-old’s struggles with male encroachment and the pressures of the public on the private life are not linked to Me Too.

The novelist has, however, said she is happy for the work to be taken as an inspiration by those involved in the movement.

She said: “I was being told to create the girl. It was not a conscious thing.

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“I saw the girl walking along the street reading Ivanhoe in what looked to me like Belfast.

“I started writing it in 2014. People bring themselves to the writing. I’m happy for it to be taken that way. But this was just what I had to write.”

Burns said writing has not been a lucrative career for her, and that the £50,000 prize she has been awarded will go towards paying off her debts.

She revealed she has been forced to move many times in her career as writing has not paid the bills.

The award will not pay for a pool, but will help her to live off her writing.

Burns said: “I struggled a lot financially. It’s partly how I write. There is a lot of waiting.

“I had to move a lot because I couldn’t afford it.”

Burns said she does not compromise on her style, and will always wait to create what she needs to.

The writer was awarded the Man Booker at an award ceremony at the Guildhall in London.