Colm Tóibín honoured as new Laureate for Irish Fiction

This month, the gay Wexford author begins a three-year term in his prestigious new role.

Close up of Colm Tóibín with books and bookshelves in the background
Image: Instagram @guardianlive

Following in the impressive footsteps of Sebastian Barry and Anne Enright, Colm Tóibín has become the third Laureate for Irish Fiction, as announced by the Arts Council yesterday morning, 20 January.

The award honours an outstanding Irish fiction writer for their contribution to Irish artistic and cultural life through their work. Established in partnership with UCD, NYU and the Irish Times in 2015, the role acknowledges the works of the writer for promoting Irish literature both nationally and internationally and inspiring a new generation of young writers.

“I am honoured to be appointed Laureate,” said Colm Tóibín. “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,” the author of ten novels and three travel books went on to say. “I will also work with fellow writers and aspiring writers to enhance the role novels and stories play in Irish life.”

“Colm is one of our finest writers with a recognised international reputation,” said Chair of the Arts Council, Prof Kevin Rafter. “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.”

“I’ve been following Colm Tóibín’s work for almost 30 years and have long admired his intelligence, erudition, wit and compassion,” said Eleanor Wachtel, Canadian critic and member of the international selection panel of the multi-award-winning author.

“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.”

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