That Anne Enright has been named as the first Laureate for Irish Fiction is good news for all of us. She holds the position for three years and in that time she’ll teach one semester each at New York University and University College Dublin while continuing with her own work. She’ll also deliver an annual lecture and ‘engage in a number of public events’. (http://www.artscouncil.ie/laureate/) The Laureate is also being supported by the Irish Times.(http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/anne-enright-named-as-first-laureate-for-irish-fiction-1.2084453)
The annual lecture is just one of the reasons why Anne Enright is such a good choice for our first fiction laureate. She’s an original and sometimes provocative thinker and she’s not afraid to speak her mind, so her lectures promise to be interesting, unsettling and entertaining all at once. Her fierce commitment to writing – art and craft – and her support for Irish writers are beyond question. She knows what’s going on around her. Writers who have her to thank for an initial nudge towards the attention of readers, publishers and prize committees in other countries include Mary Costello and Eimear McBride. Her Granta Book of the Irish Short Story (2011) was an exhilarating selection of writers and writing. It was a pleasure to read, not least for Anne Enright’s rich, thoughtful Introduction – proof, if anyone needed it, of her deep and long-standing commitment to, knowledge of and love for Irish writing.
Incidentally (or not): the Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke at the Inauguration Ceremony at the offices of the Arts Council on Merrion Square last Thursday night. He spoke well. He name-checked some interesting younger and emerging writers, as if he knows what’s going on too. Afterwards, I heard an English woman say that you’d never get an English MP, let alone a prime minister, giving time to an event in support of the Arts. True, it was a big deal for him to come out that night. It’s not exactly a long walk from Government Buildings to the Arts Council but it was a filthy night. Freezing cold and sleety, brutal traffic to be negotiated even for those of us on foot. I’m not usually a fan, but full marks there, Taoiseach.
The selection committee were: Paul Muldoon (Chair), Paula Meehan, Siobhan Parkinson, Deborah Treisman, Blake Morrisson & Juan Gabriel Vasquez
For Anne Enright’s own take on the state of Irish fiction: