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Edna O’Brien will be named Commander of the French “Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by Mrs Roselyne Bachelot, French Minister of Culture, on Sunday 7 March during an online ceremony on the eve of International Women’s Day. 

The Order of Arts and Letters awards 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 recognised by many as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.

During the ceremony organised by the Cercle Littéraire Irlandais, the French Embassy to Ireland, the Irish Embassy to France and the New-York Irish Centre, Irish Minister of Culture Catherine Martin, Irish writer Colum McCann, Irish actor Gabriel Byrne and Georges Heslin, Director of the New-York Irish Centre, will give testimonials and pay tribute to Edna O’Brien.

Edna O’Brien has built a special relationship with France and the French public both for the quality of her writing but also for her universal struggles which received a particular resonance in France. 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, Edna O’Brien has received numerous accolades. She is the recipient of many awards 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 acclaimed work “broke down social and sexual barriers for women in Ireland and beyond”.

In 2019, she was awarded with the highly prestigious Prix Femina special, by an exclusively female jury, a special prize in honour of Edna O’Brien’s entire body of work and making her its first ever non-French recipient.

Taken from the press release from the French Embassy to Ireland