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Sunday 21 September 2014

Debut novel 'left in drawer' for nine years lands top prize

Published 29/05/2014 | 02:30

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Author Eimear McBride has won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for her novel, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing
Author Eimear McBride has won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for her novel, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing
Neil Jordan
Neil Jordan
Eimear McBride. Photo: Domnick Walsh

A novel that was written in six months but lay forgotten in a drawer for nine years has won a leading literary award.

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Eimear McBride's debut novel 'A Girl is a Half-formed Thing' is this year's Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year – landing the author the coveted €15,000 award, the largest monetary prize for a novel available only to Irish authors.

Ms McBride (37), who was raised in Tubbercurry and Castlebar and received the award at last night's opening of Listowel Writers' Week, had cut short a tour of Australia and New Zealand to travel to Kerry. She joins a distinguished list that includes Neil Jordan, John Banville and Roddy Doyle. The novel has won the Goldsmiths Prize for Fiction and being shortlisted for the Bailey Prize.

It tells the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour.

Although her novel is a work of fiction, McBride said the death of her older brother from a brain tumour 15 years ago had influenced the work.

She finished the novel in six months, spent four years trying to get it published and then gave up. "I think I had resigned myself to being a literary failure. For it to suddenly be a success is wonderful, and a relief not to be a failure any more," she said.

Irish Independent

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