East Clare author Edna O’Brien has won the 2018 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
It is a major award with a prize of $50,000 and it will be presented at the 2018 PEN American Literary Awards Ceremony in New York on Tuesday next.
According to PEN America, the award is “conferred annually to a living author whose body of work, either written in or translated into English, represents the highest level of achievement in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and/or drama, and is of enduring originality and consummate craftsmanship”.
PEN said Ms O’Brien’s “acclaimed work broke down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond”.
Born in Tuamgraney in 1930, the now 87-year-old Ms O’Brien went to school in Scariff and Loughrea. In 1960, her first novel, The Country Girls, was banned in Ireland, as were a number of subsequent novels.
She has been a prolific writer in the years since and in 2002, In The Forest was based on the murders of Imelda Riney, her son Liam and Fr Joe Walsh in East Clare in 1994. Her most recent novel, The Little Red Chairs, was published in 2015.
Reacting to her winning the PEN/Nabokov award, Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon, said, “I extend my warmest congratulations to Edna O’Brien on receiving this well-merited accolade from the PEN Institute.
“Like Brinsley McNamara’s The Valley of the Squinting Windows, Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls blew a refreshingly strong gale at the smokescreen designed to conceal the judgement and curtailed freedoms of an Ireland that, thankfully, has passed into history.
“Her impressive literary style and acute observation of character has won her numerous fans and the respect of her peers and she will always remain one of our foremost literary figures,” he concluded.
By Owen Ryan