Book Notes:
Novelist Edna O’Brien to Become a Dame of the British Empire

Edna O'Brien at the 2016 Hay Festival in Wales. (Photo: Photo: Andrew Lih / Wikimedia Commons)

By Mary Gallagher, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2018

It has been reported that renowned Irish novelist Edna O’Brien will be made an honorary Dame of the British Empire for her contributions to the field of literature. Because O’Brien is a native of County Clare, the title will be unofficial. O’Brien jump-started a career of over five decades with her acclaimed debut novel, 1962’s The Country Girls, establishing a worldwide readership appreciative of her fearless portrayals of controversial or horrific subjects, including fugitive I.R.A. soldiers and terrorist-orchestrated kidnappings.

“It unites me in some etheric way to readers I don’t know,” she told the Irish Times when the news broke in April, calling the honor “an incentive, at 88, to keep going.”

O’Brien was also chosen as this year’s recipient of the U.S. PEN / Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, presented to writers judged to demonstrate excellence over the course of their career. This year’s judges, authors Michael Ondaatje and Diana Abu-Jaber, praised her “powerful voice and the absolute perfection of her prose.” ♦

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