Colm Tóibín wins Irish Pen award

Fri, Feb 4, 2011, 00:00

COLM TÓIBÍN was yesterday named as the the winner of the 2011 Irish Pen Award for contribution to Irish literature.

Irish Pen, the association for Irish writers which is affiliated to International Pen, gives the award every year to an Irish writer who has a significant body of work. The prize is open to novelists, playwrights, poets and scriptwriters. Members of Irish Pen, as well as previous winners, are the voting body.

Mary Cloake, director of the Arts Council, will present the award at the Irish Pen annual dinner on Friday, February 11th.

International Pen, a worldwide association of writers, has more than 140 branches in 90 countries.

Tóibín is Leonard Milberg Lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University in New Jersey. Speaking from there yesterday he expressed his delight at being honoured by Pen.

“Now more than ever, I believe that the work which Pen does is vital, and I feel honoured to be involved in that work for freedom of expression worldwide, and honoured, too, to have my own work recognised in my own country,” he said.

He joins a cast of previous winners that includes Brian Friel, William Trevor, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy and Roddy Doyle.

Born in Enniscorthy in 1955, Tóibín is the author of six novels including The Blackwater Lightshipand The Master, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize; and Brooklyn, which was awarded the Costa Prize.

The Masterwon the Dublin Impac award in 2006.

Tóibín is also a short story writer, playwright and literary critic.

In September Tóibín takes up a new post as professor of creative writing at Manchester University, succeeding Martin Amis.