Eimear McBride wins the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014

It took nine years for the literary world to notice Eimear McBride‘s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – but tonight she has won the first rebranded Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Eimear McBrideIt’s very hard to be a failure and a little success is a great relief.” Eimear McBride told us in a recent interview.

The Irish born author wrote her winning novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, in just six months – before spending almost a decade trying to get it published.

Since publication, it hasn’t taken long for recognition to be forthcoming: her novel was previously nominated for the inaugural Folio Prize, won last year’s Goldsmiths Prize, and is shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize this year.

So tonight the debut author is hopefully feeling something more akin to elation as she celebrates her victory over established names like Donna Tartt and Jhumpa Lahiri in the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.

“This is an extraordinary new voice – this novel will move and astonish the reader.” said Chair of Judges Helen Fraser at the awards ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, London. She described McBride’s book as an “ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy.”

Fraser and author Kate Mosse presented McBride with the £30,000 prize and her ‘Bessie’, a limited edition bronze figurine. The award, now in its 19th year, but first under new sponsor Baileys, celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from around the world.

The advice Eimear McBride recently offered our readers rings truer than ever tonight: “Give the manuscript to everyone you can think of and anyone who will read it.” said McBride, “You never know when it’ll fall into the right hands.”

 

 

A Girl is a Half-formed thingYou can Click & Collect A Girl is a Half-formed Thing from your local Waterstones bookshop, buy it online at Waterstones.com or download it in ePub format

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15 thoughts on “Eimear McBride wins the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction 2014

  1. How many “Men’s Prize for Fiction” would be allowed before the entire literary (or indeed worldwide) ensemble would be up in arms.
    The writing is of the author – not the gender of the author.
    I think this is dreadful.
    Not the work of this clearly fine author – but the award itself. Sexism goes both ways.
    This is sexist and therefore obviously unacceptable in society today.
    I laud the ability of Eimear McBride to win the award but hope, unlike sport, writers can be measured equally, male and female alike.

    • Men did put down women for millenia!!
      Scandalous. Even in the seventies women were treated poorly.
      But when things even out (there are probably as many best sellers by women authors as men) do we need the SPLIT things and continue a battle won? Or was the battle not for equality but disparity on a superior basis like men did in the past.
      As I said the PC world is a bit extreme. I love equality.
      But I don’t like awards where only one gender or race or creed or religion can participate.
      They have names associated with them all ending in -ist. Which most of us abhore.
      Some only abhore them when in one direction.

  2. Pathetic. Men have had their turn and ruled the world, our lives and everything else for ever. If women don’t have their own competitions we just get browbeaten by men pushing past us as usual. The world is sexist in men’s favour. Typically mysoginistic for one to complain about this prize!!

  3. Agreed. I don’t think the battle of the sexes will ever bo won, though. There’s far too much fraternising with the enemy!

  4. Pathetic Eileen? If a bloke expresses an opinion he’s pathetic? If women don’t have their own competitions they get browbeaten by men? If that statement had been made in the last decade agreed. Catch up please. M

  5. On a different tack, why no mention that McBride previously won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize for her book? Important because it implodes the suggestion that her book came from ‘nowhere’ for the Bailey’s. And I agree – a women’s prize is no longer necessary. May have been once but not now. Not for fiction.

    • Hi Elizabeth – Good point on the Goldsmiths, I’ll add it in along with her nomination for the Folio Prize earlier this year. Thanks, Dan

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  7. I agree that tagging “Women’s” or “Men’s” prize should now be obsolete although there are many examples of sexism existing in the UK workplace still to be overcome, however, I also wonder whether the prizes in fiction not only make the sponsor’s products more expensive but encourage us to only read those books and/or authors who have achieved notoriety via this route and thus limit those authors who are also struggling (presumably in a garret somewhere) to make their own mark in an increasingly crazy market. Now that “word of mouth” has social media’s help, one would have thought that we could and should all be able to recommend either an author or particular book we have enjoyed and so really promote the authors who deserve it and correctly recompense everyone involved.

  8. As a B or C list author (ebook ‘A Phantom of Delight’), I think the only thing that should matter is the writing, which is obviously brilliant – so my congratulations go to Eimear McBride. For 86 years I have read (probably only 76) endless arguments about the so-called divide between male and female and wondered…? Occasionally it might matter, but not for fiction – never for fiction. This sexist pigeon-hole does not help anyone’s cause. Personally, I wish that Baileys had grabbed the opportunity to rename the award, ‘Bailey’s prize for good fiction’ -or even simply ‘Bailey’s prize for Fiction’, would have been a much better way forward, rather than keeping the Miss/Mrs/Ms/Mr battle going. For now, Eimir, enjoy the money and show off Bessie as your award for excellence – and then keep writing.

    • This is the BEST response I’ve heard in my opinion (though ALL opinions are, of course, worthy in their own way).
      I listened to a Radio4 thing about this book I think and it didn’t ‘tick my boxes’ – shame on me for limiting myself. But I abjure all non-narrow-minded folk to read it. When I’ve a little more cash I may do so myself too :)
      By all accounts a wonderful book. And would probably have won the Bailey’s prize if not gender limited anyway (by all accounts).
      Hey – if I wrote a book and it won the “new authors who had recently lost weight and had a cat called Hootie as a cat” then I would nevertheless feel awesome to win it IF the book had general critical acclaim – and this book DOES (while mine probably wouldn’t).
      Praise the BOOK and the author – not the gender or race or left-handedness or anything else. That is bias. And literature doesn’t need it.
      For example – Horror books are mostly dominated nowadays by male writers. A beacon in the genre is Frankenstein. Written well before the age of women’s lib or even the women’s vote. Women can and always will win if their work means they should.

  9. It’s just a pigeon hole,a genre.It helps librarians and others who wish to identify an area of writing.Personally,I didn’t even notice anything remotely offensive or derogatory.This may be an old fashioned ‘chip on the shoulder’ syndrome.

What do you think?