An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD, this evening announced Anne Enright as the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction. She was awarded the honour by the Arts Council at a ceremony in Dublin and will begin her three-year term this month.
The reception was attended by members of the cultural and arts sector, and invited guests of the Laureate. The news of Anne Enright’s appointment was greeted with substantial and sustained applause.
Speaking at the event the Taoiseach said: "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."
The Laureate for Irish Fiction 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 chaired by the poet Paul Muldoon. The other panel members were novelist and most recent Dublin IMPAC Literary Award winner Juan Gabriel Vasquez; Poet Paula Meehan, New Yorker Magazine Fiction Editor Deborah Treisman, Novelist, biographer, Blake Morrison and Siobhán Parkinson, Ireland’s first children’s laureate (Laureate na nÓg)
Speaking immediately after the Taoiseach’s announcement, Anne Enright said: “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.”
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."
Paul Muldoon, on behalf of the selection panel, said: “Incisive, insightful, intellectually rapacious, and emotionally rapt, 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. In addition to being a consummate artist, Enright will bring a clear and radiant energy to her role. She is our unanimous choice as the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction.”
This coming weekend, Anne Enright will participate in a public interview with the poet and broadcaster Vincent Woods at Longford Public Library on Saturday, 31 January. Anne will also give a reading, following an introduction by poet Rita Ann Higgins, at Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway on Sunday, 1 February. Information on how to book a place at both events is available on the Arts Council’s website, www.artscouncil.ie/laureate,and highlights from both of these events will be posted on the site.
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