What is a totalitarianism mindset?

“This darkly comic novel, set in the seventies, takes place in a “hair-trigger society” of bomb scares, hijackings, murals – but nothing must be named, not the city of Belfast, not the IRA, not even the narrator. The jokes, like the plot, come out viciously askew.’
Daily Telegraph, Summer Reads.

I heard this week that Lyra Mc Kee, the young journalist recently murdered in Northern Ireland was a friend of Anna Burns. Anna was The Man Booker Prize Winner in 2018. Her novel Milkman is set in an unnamed city – a totalitarian ghetto where to be interesting and noticed is dangerous.

I’m recommending this novel to you first and foremost because I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in and around Belfast and it resonated so strongly with me. Secondly, I admire Burns for finding an insightful approach to such a hard subject. It’s a wholly original take on Ireland in the time of The Troubles and through the mind of a young girl. It’s frightening, hilarious, creative and joyous all at the same time. And thirdly because it expertly peels back the skin of insidious sectarianism and totalitarianism with a refreshing honesty. It is a story of Belfast and its particular sins during the Troubles but it is also a story of anywhere.

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