Newcomer Eimar McBride won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction on Wednesday, over the heavily favored veteran Donna Tartt. The prize came with a bronze statue, the Bessie, and $50,000.
McBride's debut novel "A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing" was selected from among a shortlist of six, the Guardian reported. In Britain, where literary prizes capture the attention of bettors and bookies, Tartt's novel "The Goldfinch" was the odds-on favorite.
McBride, born in 1976, wrote her novel about a young woman dealing with a history of abuse and the repercussions of her beloved brother's brain tumor in six months — and then spent nine years trying to get it published.
Originally released by the small British independent press Galley Beggar, it began capturing attention, winning the Irish Goldsmiths Prize. Faber picked up paperback rights in Britain; in the U.S., it will be published by the independent Coffee House Press in September.
In addition to Tartt's bestselling "The Goldfinch," the shortlist included Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "Americanah," which won the American National Book Critics Circle Award; Hannah Kent's "Burial Rites"; Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri's latest, "The Lowland"; and Irish writer Audrey Magee's "The Undertaking."
The prize was founded in 1996 to bring attention to fiction written by women in Britain. Originally known as the Orange Prize, for the telecom company Orange, it recently had a change in sponsorship. This is its first year as the Baileys Prize.