Irish playwright Marina Carr wins $165,000 literary prize

Author of ‘The Mai’ becomes second Irish writer in two years to be lauded by Yale

Marina Carr: She has been awarded one of the world’s must lucrative literary honours, the Windham-Campbell Prize, worth $165,000 (€155,000). Photograph: Sara Freund

Marina Carr: She has been awarded one of the world’s must lucrative literary honours, the Windham-Campbell Prize, worth $165,000 (€155,000). Photograph: Sara Freund

 

Irish playwright Marina Carr has won one of the world’s must lucrative literary honours, the Windham-Campbell Prize, worth $165,000 (€155,000).

Carr, whose adaptation of Anna Karenina premiered to great acclaim at the Abbey Theatre in December, is a lecturer in Dublin City University’s School of English. She is working on new plays for the Abbey and the Tricycle Theatre in London, the latter about Clytemnestra in the aftermath of the Trojan war.

“Lady luck is shining on me today. My thanks and appreciation to those involved in selecting my work,” Carr said.

The author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed plays, Carr was born in Dublin in 1964 to the playwright Hugh Carr and Irish language poet Maura Eibhlín Breathneach and grew up in Co Offaly.

She made her name with The Mai (1994), the first in a trilogy of plays set in the midlands and inspired by the works of Euripides and Sophocles. Like its successors Portia Coughlin (1996) and By the Bog of Cats (1998), which won the Irish Times/EST award for best new play, The Mai does not so much adapt as reinvent its source material, finding an ancient darkness in the hills and valleys of contemporary rural Ireland.

The Windham-Campbell prizes, administered by the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University, were established in 2013 with a gift from the late Donald Windham in memory of his partner of 40 years, Sandy M Campbell. They recognise exceptional writers of fiction, non-fiction and drama who write in English.

Fellow Irish playwright Abbie Spallen became the first Irish winner of the award last year.

Literary festival

The prizes are among the world’s most substantial. The Man Booker Prize is worth £50,000 and the International Dublin Literary Award €100,000. The awards will be conferred in September at an international literary festival at Yale University, whose keynote speaker will be Karl Ove Knausgård.

This year’s other recipients are André Alexis and Erna Brodber (fiction); Maya Jasanoff and Ashleigh Young (non-fiction); Ali Cobby Eckermann and Carolyn Forché (poetry) and Ike Holter (drama). Tarell Alvin McCraney, who won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay for Moonlight, won the inaugural prize in 2013.

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