Jennifer Habel is the author of Good Reason, winner of the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition. Her poems have appeared in the Believer, Gulf Coast, the Massachusetts Review, the Southeast Review, and elsewhere.
Anna Burns’s Milkman is outwardly a novel about the Troubles in Northern Ireland. But this scene, in which the unnamed heroine stumbles across a cat’s head in the rubble of a bombed-out building, unites the political with the deeply personal. Here, we see an eighteen-year-old girl caught up in the building pressure of an ethno-nationalist conflict—a war—threatening to erupt at any moment. On impulse, she picks the head up.