Indie press behind £30,000 Baileys Prize winner

The original edition of this year’s winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was published by a small independent  press.

The award winner was announced this week as Eimear McBride, with her debut novel, A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing. It was a surprise choice for the £30,000 prize as it’s an experimental novel and was up against five other highly rated novels on the short list, which comprised,

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Americanah
  • Hannah Kent – Burial Rites
  • Jhumpa Lahiri – The Lowland
  • Audrey Magee – The Undertaking
  • Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch

McBride’s book, which also won the first Goldsmiths Prize for fiction at the end of last year, tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour.

The novel was initially turned down repeatedly by mainstream publishers before Norwich-based Galley Beggar Press stepped in. The firm was founded in 2011 with the aim of being an old-fashioned publisher for the 21st Century.

It says it aims to act as a sponsor to writers who have struggled to either find or retain a publisher, and, most important, whose writing shows great ambition and literary merit. Its primary questions are not who someone is, or whether something is going to make it into the supermarkets, it’s whether this is an author they want, a novel they love.

McBride’s novel was very much an indie concern as it was also distributed by UK independent distributor Turnaround Publisher Services.

Faber & Faber have taken on the book but you can still get the original edition from Galley Beggar.

The Baileys Prize judges were: Mary Beard, Denise Mina, Caitlin Moran, Sophie Raworth and the chair was Helen Fraser.

The prize is awarded annually for excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner gets a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a Bessie, created by artist Grizel Niven.