For the past two months the number of readers of this blog in the United States has exceeded those here in the rapidly downsizing United Kingdom. So to my American readers old and new I say: Salvēte! (Latin for 'Howdy!')
Yesterday Coffee House Press issued the first American edition of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride, a modernist experimental novel published in England a year ago to universal acclaim, a novel that will define her generation of writers.
In Britain and Ireland she's already won the Goldsmiths, Kerry, Desmond Elliot and Baileys Prizes, and was shortlisted for the Folio. No other book, no other writer, has been so critically acclaimed and this, mind you, is her debut novel. But prizes are the least of it. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is no slack commercial cash-in, no lazy middle-brow heavyweight. It's the sort of book that the kind of people I don't like find offensive for the same reasons that I admire it. It's 'difficult', it's not 'a good read' and it offers no uplift or consolation. It's the polar opposite of Paolo Coelho and that kind of pap. It's harsh and stubborn and will remind you of what literature used to mean to us, once upon a time, and what it can still mean.