Anne Enright named as first Laureate for Irish Fiction
Booker prize-winning author, Anne Enright has been named as the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. The three-year role is a new initiative developed by the Arts Council, with support from University College Dublin, New York University and The Irish Times.
Enright was the “unanimous choice” of the selection panel, according to Paul Muldoon who said she would bring “a clear and radiant energy to her role”.
“Anne Enright has for almost twenty five years helped the Irish make sense of their lives, from the nursery to the national debt. Through her varied and far-reaching fiction, she has also helped the rest of the world make sense of Irish life,” said Muldoon who chaired the selection panel.
Enright was awarded the honour by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny at a ceremony in Dublin.
"The Laureate for Irish Fiction is awarded on the basis of literary accomplishment and excellence, and is the highest honour that the Irish State can bestow on a writer in this genre. Anne Enright’s eloquent and powerful writing, fiercely individual voice and unyielding commitment to her craft combined to make her the pre-eminent choice. On behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland, I offer her our warmest congratulations. I know it is a role she will undertake with distinction," said An Taoiseach.
The Laureate was selected following an extensive call for nominations over the summer months and a rigorous selection process, which culminated in the work of an international selection panel which included Novelist, Juan Gabriel Vasquez; Poet, Paula Meehan; New Yorker Magazine Fiction Editor, Deborah Treisman; Novelist and Biographer; Blake Morrison; and Ireland’s first children’s laureate (Laureate na nÓg), Siobhán Parkinson.
“The Laureateship is not about one writer, but about a series of writers stretching into the future who will each play a briefly emblematic role in Irish letters. It is a great honour to be chosen. I hope I can rise to the role, and maybe have some fun along the way. I take courage, as ever, from the readers I have met - especially in Ireland, but also abroad - who allow fiction do its deeply personal work; who let Irish writers into their minds and hearts, and welcome them as their own,” said Enright.
Sheila Pratschke, Chair of the Arts Council, said, "The individual artist is at the centre of our cultural and artistic life, and plays an essential role in Irish society. Ireland has a proud literary tradition, and it is from the individual writer that this tradition stems and flourishes. Anne Enright's commitment to her craft is without question; her excellence as a writer is manifest; her connection to readers is undeniable. The Arts Council is very proud to award her the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction."
The honour is used to promote Irish literature nationally and internationally and to encourage the public to engage with high quality Irish fiction. Over the three-year term, the Laureate will teach creative writing to students at University College Dublin and New York University, will spend time developing their own work, and will participate in a number of major, public events and promotions. They will also receive €150,000 over the three years.
Enright took up writing full-time in 1991 after a career in television production. Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, Granta and The Paris Review. Her first collection of writing, The Portable Virgin, won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 1991. In 2004, she won the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award. In 2007, she won the Man Booker prize for Fiction for her novel The Gathering. Her next novel, The Green Road, will be published in May 2015.