Debut novelist Eimear McBride triumphed over bestselling, Pulitzer-winning competitors to nab the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction on Wednesday.

The British-Irish writer received the £30,000 (nearly $55,000 Cdn) literary honour at a ceremony in London for her first novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing.

A dark family tale, the novel revolves around a troubled Irish girl and her relationship with her brother. Initially rejected by many publishers, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing was eventually released by indie press Galley Beggar.

The judges hailed McBride as an "extraordinary new voice."

The fledgling writer faced stiff competition among the finalists. Along with fellow debut novelist Audrey Magee, a contender for The Undertaking, and Hannah Kent for her story Burial Rights, the short list included:

  • Donna Tartt for her bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning The Goldfinch.
  • Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's widely hailed, U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Americanah.
  • Pulitzer-winner Jhumpa Lahiri's latest, The Lowland

Canadians Margaret Atwood and Claire Cameron had been in the running during the long list stage, for MaddAddam and The Bear, respectively.

Launched in 1996 and previously known as the Orange Prize, the annual award celebrates an English-language fiction title written by a woman.

With files from The Associated Press