Edna O’Brien awarded France’s highest cultural distinction


Irish author Edna O’Brien is set to be named Commander of the French “Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by Roselyne Bachelot, France’s minister of culture, on Sunday, March 7th.

The ceremony will be held online on the eve of International Women’s Day.

The Order of Arts and Letters citation declares that it honours the talent of O’Brien, she is described as a ‘woman of letters’ who offered a voice to women around the world.

Minister for Culture, Catherine Martin, Irish writer Colum McCann, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, and Georges Heslin, director of the New-York Irish Centre will all pay tribute to O’Brien during the ceremony.

The 90-year-old has strong ties to France. She opened the Avignon Theatre Festival in 2020 by reading her novel Girl, a story about violence against women.

O’Brien has written over 20 novels since her first book, The Country Girls, was published in 1960.

The Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) is awarded each year to figures in literature and the arts.

The order has three grades: Commander, Officer and Knight.

O’Brien joins a list of people who have been named Commander of the order including Bono (2013) and Seamus Heaney (1996).

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