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.
“It’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.”