New Irish Writing: Eimear McBride
Tuesday October 6, 2015
|Photo Credit: Jemma Mickleburgh|
The acclaimed Irish writer Eimear McBride read from and discussed her searing debut novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and one of the buzziest books of the year, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing has McBride being compared to James Joyce and Edna O'Brien.
About A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
In A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing McBride strips her sentences to their bare bones with slight punctuation to evoke the emotions and sentiments of her characters. She uses names sparingly and drops us into events at the moment the narrator is experiencing them. The result feels like a shared experience.
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing tells the story of a young Irish girl’s devastating adolescence as she and her terminally ill brother, who suffers from a brain tumor, struggle for a semblance of normalcy while undergoing emotional and physical abuse from those around them. The protagonist speaks in the second person, addressing her brother, as she navigates through their difficult existence. Her father has abandoned their family; her unstable mother, a fanatical Roman Catholic, believes her daughter’s a slut and a sinner and lashes out at her; a close relative sexually assaults her; and she is raped by strangers.
Not so much a stream of consciousness as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, the novel presents the reader with 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 firsthand. This isn’t always comfortable, but it is always a revelation.
Eimear McBride was born in 1976 and grew up in Ireland. She currently lives in Norwich with her family and is at work on her second novel.