Book Talk: Irish author was told 'didn't fit niche'

Thu May 22, 2014 5:42am EDT
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By Verity Watkins

LONDON (Reuters) - At 27, Eimear McBride was a young Irish author with a string of rejections from agents and publishers.

“They said my writing was very bold, and brave, but they didn’t know how to sell it. It didn’t fit into any niche,” she told Reuters.

One publisher even offered to produce her novel as memoir.

"They didn’t seem concerned that this hadn’t happened to me. The attitude was, 'Oh well, some of it’s true'."

Ten years later she is holding a clutch of nominations for literary prizes for the same debut book: "A Girl is a Half–formed Thing."

Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2013, shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award; and longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize - what does all that recognition feel like?

"Wonderful. I thought it would be in the drawer forever, so to have recognition, see people react and know that I have achieved the effect I wanted to achieve, is great."

McBride’s work is a dark story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, set in an Ireland of religious oppression and sexual abuse. Her protagonist goes on a journey of spectacular self-destruction in an attempt to flee her demons.   Continued...