We have a winner. After long lists and shortlists and the hype we finally have a winner for the Bailey’s Prize 2014; Elmear McBride for her book A girl is a half formed thing. The prize was handed a tonight in Westminister, UK.
African literature watchers were hoping for a win for Nigerian Chimamanda Adichie for her book Americanah which has been received very well around the world. She was a previous winner of the prize when it was still called the Orange Prize in 2007 and another win with the new sponsors would not be unwelcome.
Unfortunately our Naija sister failed to win the big prize. A “sorrowful” (sarcasm font pending) Adichie will have to settle for other prizes that the book has won like the US National Book Critics Award 2013. She will also have to wait to see how it will turn out when Lupita Nyong’o options her book into her movie. The pain.
The winner of the prize Elmear McBride was born in 1976 in Liverpool to Northern Irish parents. People from Liverpool will be happy that someone from their city at least won a trophy this
season year. The book which is her novel debut tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. It is not so much a stream of consciousness as an unconsciousness railing against a life that makes little sense, forming a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a young and isolated protagonist.
If you are like me and haven’t read it, then this book description reminds me of one of the characters in 2003 movie Love Actually. That movie was written and directed by Richard Curtis and if you go to the Wikipedia page you need to scroll down to Sarah, Karl and Michael to see that character this description reminds some of us of. If the Adichie people are unhappy with the win they can always claim that Mcbride just watched Love Actually and made that little segment into a whole book. Or not.
The judges were pretty pleased with her work and their chair Helen Fraser, had glowing words for her; “An amazing and ambitious first novel that impressed the judges with its inventiveness and energy. This is an extraordinary new voice – this novel will move and astonish the reader.”