The chair of the judging panel, Helen Fraser, said: “This has been a fantastic year for women’s fiction, as the quality of both the long- and shortlist made clear, and I think what has emerged as the worthy winner is a really original new voice.”
McBride was hailed as “that old-fashioned thing, a genius” by fellow Irish novelist Anne Enright. Her story of a girl’s life in the shadow of sexual abuse and the brain tumour of a beloved brother took six months to write and many years to get published.
McBride had accumulated a hefty pile of rejection slips, and the manuscript had gone into the back of a drawer, when a conversation between her theatre director husband and a bookshop owner in their adopted home city, Norwich, led to it being eventually being published.
In an exclusive interview with Booktopia, McBride had this advice for aspiring writers.
“If you can think of anything else you could possibly do with your life, choose it instead. Failing that, discipline is everything.”
You can read the full interview here
by Eimear McBride
This incredible debut novel tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour.
Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist.
To read A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator’s head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn’t always comfortable – but it is always a revelation.
Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.
The 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction Shortlist
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men. Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids… Read More
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. Ifemelu – beautiful, self-assured-departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home… Read More
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date… Read More
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee A stunning, riveting debut novel in the tradition of Bernhard Schlink’s The Reader and Rachel Seiffert’s The Dark Room, The Undertaking shines an intense light on history and illuminates the lives of those caught up in one of its darkest chapters… Read More
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America and a drama of enthralling power. Combining unforgettably vivid characters and thrilling suspense, it is a beautiful, addictive triumph – a sweeping story of loss and obsession, of survival and self-invention, of the deepest mysteries of love, identity and fate… Read More