The Arts Council has established a new award to honour an Irish writer of national and international distinction.
The Laureate for Irish Fiction is supported by University College Dublin and New York University while The Irish Times is media partner.
The laureate, which includes a payment of €150,000, will be awarded to what the Arts Council describes as “an outstanding fiction writer”, writing in the English language.
It said the award would be used to promote Irish literature nationally and internationally, encourage the next generation of Irish fiction writers and encourage the public to engage with high quality Irish fiction.
During the three-year term of the laureate, the recipient will teach creative writing to students at University College Dublin and New York University while developing his or her own work and taking part in a number of public events.
The nomination process is now open and is being co-ordinated by the Arts Council.
The judging panel for the final selection will include an Irish writer, a US writer and representatives from the Arts Council, UCD, NYU and The Irish Times.
Arts Council chairwoman Pat Moylan said the new award represented a milestone for Irish literature and would place Irish writing at the forefront of global public thought.
“The laureate will be a terrific honour for a literary fiction writer and his or her work will benefit all emerging writers,” she said. “The laureate will have an impact on the wider public through major events, a blog and promotions each year, all with the purpose of getting people reading high quality literary fiction.”
She said she was particularly excited about the way in which people would be able to get involved with the laureate and his or her work.
Denis Staunton, deputy editor of The Irish Times, said the newspaper was honoured to support the project. "The Irish Times has a proud tradition of excellent writers and we are delighted to support this. The laureate will build on the illustrious literary history of the Irish and aim to encourage the next generation of world famous Irish writers."
University College Dublin president Dr Hugh Brady said he believed the laureate would contribute to enhancing Ireland's global reputation and the reputation of Ireland as the centre of excellence for literature.
Deborah Landau, director of the creative writing programme at New York University said the programme was honoured "to partner with these respected literary organisations to bring a distinguished Irish writer to our campus. NYU is uniquely placed to raise the profile of Irish writing globally".