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A New York Times Notable Book, 2014
This incredible debut novel tells, with astonishing insight and in brutal detail, the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. 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 chaotic sexuality 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.
Touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma, McBride writes with singular intensity, acute sensitivity and mordant wit. A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is moving, funny – and alarming. It is a book you will never forget.
Watch a short video of Eimear reading from her novel, filmed during the run-up to the Goldsmiths Prize announcement.
‘Unforgettable…Eimear McBride is a writer of remarkable power and originality.’
‘My discovery of the year was Eimear McBride’s debut novel…in style very similar to Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, but the broken ellipses never feel like a gimmick or a game.’
‘Eimear McBride’s ferociously intense and stylistically challenging account of a young girl’s coming-of-age in rural Ireland is an astonishing literary debut…bracingly alive with sardonic humour and brilliantly realised set-pieces…A remarkable achievement.’
‘She is definitely a genius…Truth-spilling, uncompromising and brilliant prose…An instant classic.’
‘My book of the year, hands down, no questions asked and I will shout it from the rooftops, is the extraordinary A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing. This is a novel that redefines the novel—that not only takes us on an emotionally dense rollercoaster ride through the perils of intimacy and family life, but delivers the whole extraordinary story in a syntax that is flat out new and terrifyingly and wondrously imaginative and brave and utterly dramatic, bringing a voice and a life into vivid 3D experience on the page. Like nothing else—Brava! Eimear McBride!’
‘Remarkable, harshly satisfying first novel.’
‘This is the work of a writer with the courage to reinvent the sentence as she pleases, and the virtuosity required to pull it off.’
‘The author’s use of language is so unique, so instantly inimitable that McBridean deserves to be an adjective…The writing has its forebears. Virginia Woolf springs to mind in its interiority, James Joyce and Samuel Beckett in its expression of fragmented consciousness.’
‘A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is a familiar Irish tale told in transfigured Irish style, a lyrical prose-poem on horror and human endurance that is – astonishingly – neither horrific nor hard to read.’
‘This powerfully intense depiction of troubled girlhood is written with uncompromising brio and fidelity. After her long wait for a publisher, McBride deserves her critical success.’
‘A bravura performance.’
‘Blazingly daring…[McBride’s] prose is a visceral throb, and the sentences run meanings together to produce a kind of compression in which words, freed from the tedious march of sequence, seem to want to merge with one another, as paint and musical notes can. The results are thrilling, and also thrillingly efficient. The language plunges us into the center of experiences that are often raw, unpleasant, frightening, but also vital.’
‘Boldly original and utterly compelling, Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is just the kind of book the Goldsmiths Prize was created to celebrate, and we are delighted to have found such a remarkable novel in the award’s inaugural year. 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.’
‘McBride’s prose might be idiosyncratic and the narrative emotionally challenging, but this is an accomplished novel. I knocked it back in two sittings and a week later I’m still reeling.’
‘So fearful am I of that overused descriptor “groundbreaking.” For once, it is fitting.’
‘Rarely do you find a new book that breaks new ground, but Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing does…I’m enthusiastically recommending it for sheer original bravura.’
‘One of the best books I’ve read…deftly cut out my heart and left it quivering on the pillow beside me.’