If at first you don’t succeed...
Try again, is the lesson from Eimear McBride. She is one of three on the shortlist for the Desmond Elliott Prize, considered the most prestigious award for first-time novelists. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing took her six months to write, but nine years to get published.
Good things come to those who wait?
Or in Ms McBride’s case, those who refuse to give up. For nearly a decade the writer, who was born in Liverpool in 1976 to Irish parents, and grew up in Sligo and Mayo in Ireland, saw her novel repeatedly rejected by publishers for being too experimental. It finally found a home last year with Galley Beggar Press of Norwich, which is where Ms McBride now lives.
The publishers who rejected her manuscript must be kicking themselves now…
It’s a story as old as time itself. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Stephen King’s Carrie and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series were all rejected multiple times before being picked up.
What’s the book about?
It depicts a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the huge impact his childhood brain tumour has on her family’s life. The stream-of-consciousness style gives a sometimes shocking insight into the protagonist’s private thoughts. Ms McBride’s debut novel won the 2013 Goldsmiths Prize and been shortlisted for the 2014 Folio Prize and the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Sounds like she’s on a roll!
Dr Tim Parnell, who chaired the Goldsmiths Prize judging panel, called the book “boldly original and utterly compelling”. The winner of the Desmond Elliott Prize will be announced on 3 July and will be awarded £10,000. The other nominees are Robert Allison for The Letter Bearer, published by Granta, and DW Wilson for Ballistics, Bloomsbury.