March 10 Update
Thanks to Cercle Littéraire Irlandais, here is the video of the ceremony!
Gabriel’s tribute begins at the 36:00 minute mark. You should watch the whole thing, though. Edna is brilliant, and so is everyone else.
We are lucky to have writers and and actors and artists in our world, are we not? Let’s give thanks. heart
Writer Edna O’Brien has been a vital and meaningful voice for Gabriel Byrne for many years. Now he has an opportunity to remind us why she is so important to him. Gabriel will join an array of luminaries to offer tribute as Edna O’Brien becomes a Commander of the “Ordre des Arts et Lettres” of France, the country’s highest cultural honor, at the online ceremony hosted by the Cercle Littéraire Irlandais, the French Embassy to Ireland, and many others.
The Irish multi-award winning author Edna O’Brien will be named Commander of the “Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister of Culture, on Sunday 7 March:
at 6PM CET (France)
that’s 5PM GMT (Ireland & UK)
or NOON in New York
The Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters is France’s highest cultural distinction and it rewards the talent of Edna O’Brien, a woman of letters, and the struggle of a committed feminist who offered a voice to women around the world, and who is recognised by many as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.
During the online ceremony hosted by the Cercle Littéraire Irlandais, the French Embassy to Ireland, the Irish Embassy to France, the Centre Culturel Irlandaisand the New-York Irish Center, Irish Minister of Culture Catherine Martin, Irish writer Colum McCann, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, Nora Hickey M’Sichili, Directrice du Centre Culturel Irlandais and George Heslin Executive Director of the New-York Irish Centre will join Minister Roselyne Bachelot in paying tribute to Edna O’Brien**
O’Brien has built a special relationship with France and the French public both for her writing but also for her own personal story. In 2020, she opened the Avignon Theatre Festival in partnership with France Culture with the reading of her latest novel Girl, a moving story about violence against women, one of her lifelong concerns.
Born and raised in Tuamgraney, Co Clare, O’Brien has received numerous accolades, including the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Arts Gold Medal, the Frank O’Connor Prize, the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature whose work “broke down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond”.
In 2019, she was awarded the prestigious Prix Femina special, by an exclusively female jury, in honour of her entire body of work, making her its first ever non-French recipient.
Her first novel The Country Girls, was banned in Ireland when it was first published in 1960. Since then she has written more than 20 novels, five plays and four works of non-fiction including her memoir, Country Girl. Translated in French from her first novel in 1960 by Juilliard, by Presses de la Cité in 1962, she was then published by Gallimard in 1968 and 1973. About fifteen titles were published by Fayard between 1986 and 2003 before she formed an exclusive relation with her current French publisher Sabine Wespieser in 2010.
The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) is awarded each year by the French minister of culture to significant figures in the arts and literature. The order has three grades, increasing in prestige from Knight, to Officer, and to Commander. Up to 20 people can receive the title of Commander each year, making Edna O’Brien one of an exclusive list of cultural figures including Bono (2013) and Seamus Heaney (1996).
Amazon USA has an omnibus edition of Edna O’Brien’s Country Girl novels entitled The Country Girls: Three Novels and an Epilogue: (The Country Girl; The Lonely Girl; Girls in Their Married Bliss; Epilogue) available in print and Kindle editions published in 2017, for those of us who need reminding or who perhaps have never read the earlier work of this icon of world literature.
Congratulations to Edna O’Brien on this lovely honor from France! heart
And what a splendid way to celebrate Women’s History Month 2021!