Friday, January 30, 2015

Anne Enright announced as Ireland’s first fiction laureate

Arts Council of Ireland unanimously choose the author from 34 candidates as the public face of Irish fiction

Anne Enright
Anne Enright at home in Bray, near Dublin. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian
Numerous countries have their poet laureate. But a fiction laureate? The Arts Council of Ireland set a brave precedent last year when it invited nominations for the first ever post of this kind. And now, 10 weeks after the decision had been reached (a long time to keep a secret in Dublin), Anne Enright has been announced as laureate.

The 119 nominations were made from bookshops, libraries, arts organisations, book clubs and individual writers, with a total of 34 potential candidates. Many familiar names, young and old, were among them, including John Banville, William Trevor, Edna O’Brien, Emma Donoghue, Roddy Doyle, Sebastian Barry and Eimear McBride. The role will be a highly active one and not all the nominees felt able to be considered; 
Colm Tóibín withdrew because his past involvement with the Arts Council was, he felt, a conflict of interest. The shortening of the shortlist made things slightly easier for the panel of judges (three from Ireland, three of us from elsewhere). We were, at any rate, unanimous. As our chair, Paul Muldoon, put it, Anne Enright’s fiction has helped the Irish make sense of their lives for the past quarter century – and helped the rest of the world understand Ireland.

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