The Laureate for Irish Fiction just gets better and better…

Anne Enright, one of 34 authors on the longlist for the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction (Image: The Guardian)

A longlist of 34 authors for the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction was announced this week.

Among the various (necessarily imprecise) criteria for the award are that the author has:

  • an internationally recognised body of work, and
  • demonstrated commitment to engaging with the public, the media and the literary sector

There are 21 men and 13 women on the list, including former Booker Prize winners John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle and also William Trevor, who has made the shortlist for the Booker five times but has never won.

Other Irish literary veterans (if that’s not too harsh) are Sebastian Barry, Patrick McCabe, Dermot Bolger and Edna O’Brien, while among the relative newcomers on the list are Eimear McBride, whose debut novel A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing won the Baileys Prize earlier this year, and Jaki McCarrick, who published her debut collection of stories, The Scattering, in 2013.

There is no more notable omission than Colm Tóibín, although there may be valid reasons for this – certainly, Tóibín was pictured at the launch of the laureateship last December, so his absence from the list of 34 writers below must have a basis in something we aren’t being told about in the publicity material.

There’s no doubt that the judging panel in phenomenally strong, chaired by poet Paul Muldoon and including his fellow Irish poet Paula Meehan, author Blake Morrison, this year’s IMPAC Dublin Literary Award winner Juan Gabriel Vasquez and Deborah Triesman, the New Yorker‘s fiction editor and producer of the New Yorker short story podcast, one of the best shows you could ever hope to listen to.

The Laureate for Irish Fiction will have a three year term (initially 2015-18), carries a €150,000 bursary and will see the laureate teach creative writing at UCD and New York University.

The first Laureate for Irish Fiction will be announced in January, and more info can be found on the Arts Council website here.

The full longlist for the Irish Laureate for Fiction:

  • John Banville
  • Sebastian Barry
  • Dermot Bolger
  • John Boyne
  • Michael Coady
  • Evelyn Conlon
  • Peter Cunningham
  • Emma Donoghue
  • Roddy Doyle
  • Catherine Dunne
  • Christine Dwyer Hickey
  • Anne Enright
  • Hugo Hamilton
  • Anne Haverty
  • Jennifer Johnston
  • Claire Keegan
  • Tom Kilroy
  • Ré O Laighleis
  • Eimear McBride
  • Patrick McCabe
  • Colum McCann
  • Jaki McCarrick
  • Liam Mac Cóil
  • John MacKenna
  • Belinda McKeon
  • Bernard MacLaverty
  • Eoin McNamee
  • Paul Murray
  • Nuala Ní Chonchuir
  • Edna O’Brien
  • Joseph O’Connor
  • Donal Ryan
  • William Trevor
  • Niall Williams
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A beautiful new paperback edition of Dubliners

The release date on BookDepository says August 2014, but I’m just seeing this now – a beautiful new paperback centennial edition of James Joyce’s Dubliners by Penguin Classics.

Introduced by Colum McCann, the book also includes (via product description) “the stunning cover art and sumptuous packaging that are the hallmarks of the Penguin Classics Graphic Deluxe series”.

The beauty of the cover art (below) is obvious, but sumptuous packaging? I want to know more about that – has anyone received any of the Penguin Classics Graphic Deluxe series? What is this sumptuousness they speak of?

It has been a decent centenary for Dubliners, with startup Irish publisher Tramp Press also producing a beautiful new collection of short stories with Irish writers such as Paul Murray, Peter Murphy, Patrick McCabe, Eimear McBride, John Kelly and Elske Rahill reimagining the Joyce stories 100 years on. Find more about Dubliners 100 here.

(Images below via 1901 over on Tumblr)

Samuel Beckett’s description of his ailing mother is poignant, beautiful and original

Beckett … characteristically original

Death and love are the twin towers of all literature, so when someone comes up with an original way of describing one or the other, you have to sit up and take note.

A new collection of letters and postcards written by Beckett between 1947 and ’58, and sent to his friends, the artists Henri and Josette Hayden, have been placed on exhibition by Trinity College Dublin, which purchased them at auction for €180,000 earlier this year.

Included in the lot is a postcard written while his mother was dying in 1950:

My mother is still declining. It’s like one of those decrescendos made by the trains at Ussy which I used to listen to at night, interminable, suddenly resuming just when everything seemed finished and the silence final.

I think she will die in hospital in a week or so.

Not being musical, I never even knew the word “decrescendo”. Quite beautiful.

Read the full story at The Irish Examiner