Milkman by Anna Burns (Faber & Faber, £8.99)

Sometimes a book just gets under your skin and you find yourself thinking about it even when you are not reading it: the rhythm of the language is peppering your everyday thoughts. This is one such book.

Set during the Troubles in 1970’s Belfast, the exact location of Anna Burns' book is never actually named. But wherever it is, it is a closed, claustrophobic and repressive community. Everyone is watching everyone, waiting for behaviour to give way to suspicion.

Without actually having to do very much, the reputation of our main character is built on hearsay and rumour alone. There is a distinct hierarchy at work with the paramilitaries at the top, apart from the odd occasions when the women of the community step out of the shadows when things go too far.

The language is dense and lyrical. At first I thought that I would find it difficult to read, as the narrator refers to all her family members, of which there are many, as first sister, third brother-in-law, maybe-boyfriend. However this actually makes it all quite easy to follow.

This is a book to be savoured and to take your time over. There is a lot of humour in this book, and observations on the ridiculousness of certain situations.

There is also a sinister undertone to the entire narrative with the eponymous Milkman watching and waiting for the inevitable capitulation. This is a unique read, and richly rewarding.

Philippa Morris