'A true man of letters': Author Colm Tóibín named Laureate for Irish Fiction until 2024

'It’s thrilling that he has agreed to be Ireland’s new Laureate for Fiction'
'A true man of letters': Author Colm Tóibín named Laureate for Irish Fiction until 2024

Colm Tóibín is the Laureate for Irish Fiction 2022-2024. Picture: Barry Cronin

Award-winning author and playwright Colm Tóibín has been named the Laureate for Irish Fiction for 2022 to 2024 by the Arts Council, taking over from Sebastian Barry. Tóibín's three-year term will begin this month.

"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," said Tóibín, who is from Co Wexford.

"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.” 

The Laureate for Irish Fiction is an initiative of the Arts Council and acknowledges the contribution of fiction writers to Irish artistic and cultural life. 

The role honours an established Irish writer of fiction, encourages a new generation of writers, promotes Irish literature nationally and internationally and encourages the public to engage with high quality Irish fiction. The inaugural Laureate was Anne Enright.

The Laureate’s annual lecture will be delivered in the autumn, in Galway. In addition, Tóibín will present The Art of Reading, a monthly book club for library book clubs across the country that is also offered as an online event on the last Thursday of every month, in partnership with Libraries Ireland. 

Colm Toibin pictured in Dublin. Picture: Billy Higgins
Colm Toibin pictured in Dublin. Picture: Billy Higgins

Tóibín, whose 10 novels include Brooklyn and Nora Webster, will discuss a selection of titles by Irish writers, highlighting outstanding Irish writing and celebrating the reader and book clubs, often being joined by the featured writer for a conversation about their book. The first online book club event will be available for streaming on Thursday, February 24 when Tóibín will be in conversation with Claire Keegan about her recent book, Small Things Like These.

Readers can sign up for The Art of Reading Book Club monthly events through Facebook (facebook.com/LaureateIrishFiction).

"The Arts Council is very proud to award Colm Tóibín the honour of Laureate for Irish Fiction from 2022 to 2024," said Professor Kevin Rafter, chair of the Arts Council.

"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."

Canadian critic and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, who is a member of the international selection panel, said Tóibín is a "true man of letters".

"I’ve been following Colm Tóibín’s work for almost 30 years and have long admired his intelligence, erudition, wit and compassion," she said.

"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."

More details about Laureate events and activities can be found on the Arts Council’s website: artscouncil.ie/laureate.

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