Edna O'Brien on her new novel Girl, her first The Country Girls, and her career in between
A Front Row for Bank Holiday Monday: Kirsty Lang interviews the writer Edna O'Brien about her new novel, her first novel and her career in between, spanning almost sixty years, 25 works of fiction, as well as biographies and plays.
Radio 4 is now broadcasting an adaptation of The Country Girls trilogy. Edna O'Brien's stories of Kate and Baba as they leave rural Ireland for Dublin then London, find work, meet men, and have sex caused scandal when they were published in the 1960s. Her books were banned (six times) and publicly burned in her hometown. Now these are considered among the most significant novels of the last century, important for their exploration of the experience of women and for furthering the cause of their liberation. Times change and now, O'Brien tells Kirsty Lang, she has received, from the president, Ireland's highest cultural accolade.
Edna O'Brien is in her late eighties yet research for her new novel, Girl, took her to difficult, dangerous territory in Nigeria. Reading a report about a girl found with her baby wandering in the forest without food, she felt compelled to write their story so set out to find out about the schoolgirls abducted by Bokko Haram. She tells Kirsty how she visited camps, interviewed young women who had been kidnapped, raped and enslaved. She distilled this material into the story of Maryam. It is harrowing, redemptive and beautifully written.
Edna O'Brien speaks about the relationship between her own life and her writing and how she has found the courage to move beyond the autobiographical in her fiction. Her ambition, she tells Kirsty, is to carry on, to write one more novel. But that, too, will involve a perilous journey.
Presenter: Kirsty Lang
Reader: Shalifa Kaddu
Producer: Julian May…read more