Nominated by:

Zentralbibliothek Zürich, Switzerland

Dublin City Public Libraries, Ireland

Publisher of nominated edition:

Faber & Faber, UK

The Lesser Bohemians

Eimear McBride    

2018 Shortlist!

Judges’ comments

In The Lesser Bohemians, Eimear MacBride returns again with her urgent and unique voice on female sensibility and sexuality, a voice of piercing authenticity. In MacBride’s case, we cannot separate the relation between the novelist and her fictional creation. Stylistically, the present novel is continuous with A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing and centered around a female character’s inner life.

The Lesser Bohemians is set in an enclosed London flat in the 1990s. It’s about the sexual love between an Irish girl and an English man. With MacBride’s breathless writing style (largely based on the female character’s speech and thoughts), we get a very strong sense of a certain claustrophobic and self-contained environment in London where the two lovers battle each other physically and mentally in a room. A sentence typifying her style is: ‘His body — it seems — liking everything while mine still doesn’t know what’s going on but tries so hard to please. Catch it watching him follow the pleasure though, then — where he expects — starts finding its own. That’s it, he says and farther goes than I would think to give. Straight to manhandled knickers and every inch he can.’

The author rejects the neutral use of language or language as a purveyor of information. Instead it’s an internal and subjective vehicle for mind and events. The writing pours forth seemingly merging the characters’ and the writer’s thoughts in one. In that light, this novel is a distinctive achievement in experimental literature, one that gives great encouragement both to those writers who are willing to take risks with form and for readers who are willing to experience such adventures in their reading life.

About the book

The vibrant energy of 1990s London. A year of passion and discovery. The anxiety and intensity of new love.

An eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls violently in love with an older actor. While she is naive and thrilled by life in the big city, he is haunted by demons, and the clamorous relationship that ensues risks undoing them both. At once epic and exquisitely intimate, The Lesser Bohemians is a celebration of the dark and the light in love.

 About the author

Eimear McBride trained at Drama Centre London. Her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing received a number of awards including the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and Irish Novel of the Year. She occasionally writes and reviews for the Guardian, TLS and the New Statesman.

(from publisher)

Librarian’s comments

The captivating second novel of Eimear McBride is a tale of sex, violence and love that cruelly shows how closely linked those often are in relationships. Told in McBrides characteristic broken sentences, the book closely observes the relationship between an 18-year-old Irish drama student and an older, established actor. A beautiful and terrifying portrait of intimacy.

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