Author(s): Eimear McBride
Eimear McBride's novel tells the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother after a tumour leaves him severely brain damaged. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and sensual urges of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world first-hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation.
Very occasionally you come across a book that impresses itself upon you so heavily that the next several books you read seem contrived and inconsequential by comparison. Eimear McBride’s story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, the on-going impact of his childhood brain tumour, their mother’s hysterical Catholicism and the narrator’s increasingly chaotic and self-annihilating sexuality is tremendously affecting because of the highly original (and note-perfect) way in which the author has broken and remade language to match the thought-patterns of the narrator. Short sentences like grit in the mind, snatches of unassimilable experience, syntax fractured by trauma, the uncertain, desperately repeated and painfully abandoned attempts to wring a gram of meaning or even beauty out of compound tragedy, to carry on, both living and telling, despite the impossibility of carrying on, situate the reader right inside the narrator’s head. This book is upsetting, intense, compassionate, revelatory, unflinching, and sometimes excoriatingly funny. It gives access to what you would have thought inaccessible. You will be very pleased to have read it. - Thomas
Winner of the Goldsmith's Prize, 2013
I have read some excellent books this year but this one stands out. The novel’s (downward) narrative arc is not unusual but the way in which McBride has used language to convey thought shattered by trauma but compelled always to attempt to pull itself into (an ever-more-fragile) coherence is astounding and very affecting. Brought out initially by the tiny Galley Beggar Press in the UK (and subsequently by the insightful Text Publishing) after years of rejection by other publishers, this book has just won the inaugural Goldsmiths Prize for innovative fiction, ‘book of the year’ status from Eleanor Catton, Kirsty Gunn and others, and ‘genius’ status from Anne Enright. - Thomas
"McBride's virtuosic phrase-making - not just memorable but often unforgettable. I was repeatedly (as the author puts it) "gob impressed". Writing of this quality is rare and deserves a wide readership. The publisher tells us only that the author was born in Liverpool, raised in Ireland, studied in London and currently lives in Norfolk, where she is working on a second novel. This is something to anticipate with interest because Eimear McBride is a writer of remarkable power and originality. - David Collard - The TLS