20 January 2022
Colm Tóibín (photo: Barry Cronin)
The Arts Council is delighted to announce the appointment of Colm Tóibín as the Laureate for Irish Fiction 2022-2024. His three-year term will begin this month.
The Laureate for Irish Fiction was selected following an extensive call for nominations in June 2021 and a rigorous selection process, which culminated in the work of an international selection panel chaired by Professor Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council.
The Laureate will continue his work as a creative artist. In addition, over the course of his three year term, Colm Tóibín will deliver a craft talk aimed at MA and undergraduate students in each of the Irish universities with a creative writing programme and an annual lecture to the public which will also be disseminated in a publication. Additionally, the Laureate for Irish Fiction will engage in a select number of major public events per annum, with the primary objective of promoting and encouraging greater engagement with Irish literature.
The public programme is curated by the Laureate for Irish Fiction, based around the themes and priorities that he has identified. In Colm Tóibín’s case he will concentrate among other things, on ‘The Art of Reading’. The Laureateship is designed so that the Laureate will shape the role himself, as is the case in the Ireland Professor of Poetry and Laureate na nÓg. This allows the individual artist to be at the heart of the project, and the Arts Council has a proud and long history of supporting individual artists, particularly writers.
In partnership with Libraries Ireland, the Laureate for Irish Fiction with present The Art of Reading 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 book club 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.
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. Links to view the online Art of Reading Book Club monthly events will be posted here and will be shared via Facebook at www.facebook.com/LaureateIrishFiction and @LaureateFiction on Twitter and Instagram laureateirishfiction.
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.
Those individuals or organisations who wish to invite the Laureate to participate in an event should contact Audrey Keane, Project Manager for the Laureate for Irish Fiction, at firstname.lastname@example.org. As stated above, we will be supporting the Laureate as he curates his public programme and it will be based around the Laureate's priorities.