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Yesterday, Chimamanda Adichie lost the 30,000-dollar Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction to Eimear McBride, to a 37 year old Irish author who had been rejected by publishers for 10 years.

Among the likes of Adichie, Donna Tartt, and Jhumpa Lahiri on the shortlist, McBride had to have felt like a literary underdog. She went from being a publisher’s reject to winning one of the most prestigious prizes in the world.

Here is how it happened.

According to the Daily Mail, it took McBride just 6 months to finish writing A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. This was in 2004. She sent it out to publishers and got nothing but rejections.

At some point—probably tired of all the rejections—“she decided to put the novel away until last year when Norwich-based independent publisher Gallery Beggar Press agreed it must be published.”

Gallery Beggar Press had previously published only one book, so they weren’t exactly top-notch, not to mention that they gave her a meager 600 pound advance. But things changed for McBride soon after they published her novel. Faber and Faber later picked up the book, and the rest is history.

A Girl is a Half-formed Thing “tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother who is living with the after effects of a brain tumor.”

Helen Fraser who chaired the panel of judges describes the work as “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.”

{Download book HERE}

Congrats to McBride. We feel inspired by her story! Getting published is a tough game, and the hustle is not getting any easier. To all our aspiring African writers, we say hang in there. It will happen for you one day.

Feature image via Guardian

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

3 Responses to “Adichie Loses Bailey’s Women’s Prize To Novelist Rejected by Publishers” Subscribe

  1. Catherine Onyemelukwe 2014/06/05 at 10:05 #

    I’m sorry Adichie lost, but she has many prizes to console her, and of course more to come!

  2. Ainehi Edoro 2014/06/05 at 15:52 #

    You are spot on Catherine!

  3. Obi 2014/06/06 at 03:12 #

    Americanah has 2 prizes already: the 2013 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Fiction and the 2014 National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Fiction. The first is a minor prize though. And she made the 2013 Booker Prize longlist.

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