The Arts Council announces Colm Tóibín as the Laureate for Irish Fiction 2022-2024
The Arts Council is delighted to announce the appointment of Colm Tóibín as the Laureate for Irish Fiction 2022-2024. He is taking over the laureateship from Sebastian Barry, who followed inaugural Laureate Anne Enright. His three-year term will begin this month.
The Laureate for Irish Fiction is an initiative of the Arts Council. The role seeks to acknowledge the contribution of fiction writers to Irish artistic and cultural life by honouring an established Irish writer of fiction, encouraging a new generation of writers, promoting Irish literature nationally and internationally and encouraging the public to engage with high quality Irish fiction.
Chair of the Arts Council, Professor Kevin Rafter said, “The Arts Council is very proud to award Colm Tóibín the honour of Laureate for Irish Fiction from 2022 to 2024. Colm is one of our finest writers with a recognised international reputation. His novels and short stories are not just acclaimed by critics but they are also loved by readers. I know he will bring his tremendous intellect, and endless energy and empathy, to the role of Laureate for Irish Fiction.”
Speaking about the choice, Canadian critic, broadcaster and member of the international selection panel Eleanor Wachtel said, “I’ve been following Colm Tóibín’s work for almost 30 years and have long admired his intelligence, erudition, wit and compassion. From his thoughtful essays to his engaging fiction, he’s remarkably talented and prolific, full of warmth and enthusiasm –a true man of letters, generous both as a writer and as a reader. It’s thrilling that he has agreed to be Ireland’s new Laureate for Fiction.”
When asked about his appointment, incoming Laureate for Irish Fiction Colm Tóibín said, “I am honoured to be appointed Laureate. I am proud to follow Anne Enright and Sebastian Barry in establishing a public role for a writer of fiction in Ireland. I will do what I can to work with a community of readers so that fiction continues to enrich our lives, allow us to see the world more clearly, or with a deepened sense of mystery. I will also work with fellow writers and aspiring writers to enhance the role novels and stories play in Irish life.”
Following today’s announcement, Colm Tóibín will begin his public programme.
In partnership with Libraries Ireland, the Laureate for Irish Fiction with present The Art of Reading, a monthly book club for library book clubs across the country and offered as an online event for readers everywhere on the last Thursday of every month.
The Art of Reading will be hosted by Colm Tóibín. Over the course of the year, the Laureate will discuss a selection of titles by Irish writers, highlighting outstanding Irish writing and celebrating the reader and book clubs. In some cases, the Laureate will be joined by the featured writer in conversation about their book. The first online book club event will be available for streaming on Thursday 24 February. In this event Colm will be in conversation with Claire Keegan about her recent book Small Things Like These.
Readers, book lovers and book clubs everywhere are invited to join in the Art of Reading with the Laureate, to read these outstanding books and tune in every month for the discussion.
Sign up for The Art of Reading Book Club monthly events via Facebook at www.facebook.com/LaureateIrishFiction and follow @LaureateFiction on Twitter #TheArtofReading and Instagram laureateirishfiction.
The Laureate’s annual lecture will be delivered in the autumn, in Galway.
More details about these and other Laureate events and activities can be found on the Arts Council’s website, www.artscouncil.ie/laureate.
Colm Tóibín Biography
Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy Co. Wexford in 1955 and educated at University College Dublin. He lived in Catalonia for several years before he returned to Dublin to work as a journalist, becoming Features Editor of ‘In Dublin’ in 1981 and editor of ‘Magill’ in 1982. In 1987, he received a bursary from the Arts Council to support his early writing. His three travel books are: ‘Bad Blood: A Walk along the Irish Border’ (1987); ‘Homage to Barcelona’ (1990); and ‘The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe’ (1984). His ten novels include ‘The Master’ (2004), winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize and the LA Times Novel of the Year; ‘Brooklyn’ (2009), winner of the Costa Novel of the Year; and ‘Nora Webster’ (2014), winner of the Hawthornden Prize. His two collections of stories are ‘Mothers and Sons’ (2006), winner of the Edge Hill Prize, and ‘The Empty Family’ (2010), shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor Award. His plays include ‘The Testament of Mary’ (2011), nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play. In 1993, he was elected to Aosdána and in 2020 became a vice-president of the Royal Society of Literature. He is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages. He is a contributing editor at the London Review of Books. In 1995, he received the E.M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2017 he won the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement and the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. In 2021 was awarded the David Cohen Prize. He has taught at Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, Princeton University, the University of Manchester and Columbia University. He is Chancellor of the University of Liverpool.