Norwich author wins £30,000 prize for novel written in six months

Eimear McBride Eimear McBride

Wednesday, June 4, 2014
8:24 PM

Norwich novelist Eimear McBride has won the £30,000 Women’s Prize for Fiction for her book A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing.

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The writer, 37, beat big names including American novelist Donna Tartt when she was announced as the winner at a ceremony in central London.

The novel, which is the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour, was written in just six months but was initially rejected by every publisher she sent it to.

Ms McBride put the novel away for a decade after it was rejected as too experimental before city publisher Galley Beggar Press picked it up.

It has been critically acclaimed but McBride lost out on The Folio Prize in March to American writer George Saunders, although she did scoop the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award last week.

Helen Fraser, who chaired the judging panel, said: “An amazing and ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy. This is an extraordinary new voice - this novel will move and astonish the reader.”

Ms McBride, who was born in Liverpool but grew up Sligo and Mayo in Ireland, collected her prize at an awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London beating authors including a previous winner, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who was nominated for Americanah.

Jonathan Ruppin, web editor for Foyles bookshop, said: “To paraphrase Brian Eno’s legendary quote about the first Velvet Underground album, not many people have bought it so far but every single one of them will probably write a novel

“It’s bold, brilliant and beautiful, a book that will delight every reader concerned that the novel had nowhere new to go and reinforce every prejudice of those who dismiss literary fiction as pretentious.”

Ms McBride, who is married to Norfolk and Norwich Festival artistic director William Galinsky, lives in the Golden Triangle with their young daughter Eadaoin.

Previous winners of the prize, formerly sponsored by communications company Orange, include Zadie Smith’s On Beauty and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

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