Edna O’Brien (born 15 December 1930) is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. She is considered the “doyenne” of Irish literature. Philip Roth considers her “the most gifted woman now writing in English”, while former President of Ireland Mary Robinson regards her as “one of the great creative writers of her generation.”
O’Brien’s works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men, and to society as a whole. Her first novel, The Country Girls, is often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in Ireland following World War II. The book was banned, burned and denounced from the pulpit, and O’Brien left Ireland behind.
O’Brien now lives in London. She received the Irish PEN Award in 2001. Saints and Sinners won the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for a short story collection. Faber and Faber published her memoir, Country Girl, in 2012.
Michela Sacchi O’Brien
Crooked Cat says,
Michela O’Brien was born in Milan, Italy, in… well, let’s say some time in the last third of the 20th century. In Milan she grew up, studied, worked as a teacher, made friends and wrote, commending thoughts to page, imagining plots and characters, recording events in her life, noting observations about the world: stories, diaries, letters… In an era before personal computers, internet, blogs and social networks, it was pen and paper and she still carries a notebook and a pencil with her to sketch ideas on the spot.
She moved to England in 1994 and for a while she focused her attention on her new family. Writing was sidelined, until, about ten years ago, she went back to her love for words and wrote a novel, published in Italy, and a series of short stories, all in her native language.
Several people asked her if she would ever consider writing in English, but her standard answer was “I wouldn’t be able to. My English is not good enough.” Then, almost as a joke for some friends, she started writing Like A Rose, her first attempt to produce a piece of writing in English. It was received so well by those who read it that she thought maybe she could do it again.
She wrote two novels, Playing on Cotton Clouds, published in April 2012, and A Summer of Love, released in January 2013. She is currently working on her third novel.
Apart from the fact that they share a surname, Michela writes, “…she was an ante litteram feminist, which sits well with me, and a couple of her novels (like The Country Girls) are coming of age stories, which again echoes my own work.”