Eimear McBride wins top prize at Listowel Writers Week

Debut novel took nine years to find publisher

Winner: Eimear McBride

Winner: Eimear McBride


Eimear McBride has won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for her debut novel, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which took nine years to find a publisher.

The €15,000 prize was announced as Listowel Writers’ Week opened for the 43rd time last night.

The award is the largest monetary prize for a novel and is open solely to Irish authors. Also on the shortlist were Deirdre Madden, Frank McGuinness, Donal Ryan and Colum McCann.

Speaking in Listowel, McBride, who grew up in Sligo and Mayo, told how a “tiny” publishing house in Norwich, where she now lives, published her book in 2013 after it was “rejected all over the place.”

The novel, which describes a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour, has now been picked up by major publisher Faber.

Asked what winning the Kerry award meant, McBride said: “It’s really a huge honour to be in the company of John McGahern, Anne Enright and John Banville, all past winners.”

Last night’s ceremony, hosted by poet Paul Durcan, featured a range of prizes, including the inaugural Pigott Poetry Prize, awarded to Matthew Sweeney, and the John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Mercier Press, presented to playwright Bernard Farrell.

Other writers to feature over the next five days include Tishani Doshi, Gerbrand Bakker, Joseph O’Connor, Mary Lawson, Aminatta Forna and Jim Crace. Details from writersweek.ie