Eimear McBride picked up the Goldsmiths Prize for A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing at an event in London last night.
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.
McBride, who was born in Liverpool but grew up Sligo and Mayo, put the novel away for years after it was rejected as too experimental before submitting it to publishers again this year without making changes.
Yesterday, she said: “I think there is an audience for this kind of work out there and this is a great opportunity for them to be able to find it.”
Tim Parnell, chair of the judging panel and head of English at Goldsmiths College, said the book was “boldly original and utterly compelling”.
“Serious discussion of the art of fiction is too often confined to the pages of learned journals and we hope that going forward the prize and the events surrounding it will stimulate a much wider debate about the novel.”
The prize was created by Goldsmiths, which is part of the University of London, in association with the New Statesman magazine to recognise books that are “genuinely novel”.
McBride’s book beat five other titles including Jim Crace’s Harvest and David Peace’s Red Or Dead about the life and career of Liverpool manager Bill Shankly.