Look out for this interesting interview by Mick Heaney, son of Seamus, in the Irish Times on-line …..

Sebastian Barry at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Mick Heaney of the Irish Times

Throughout his life as a writer, Sebastian Barry has always placed a high value on privacy. But if he has any doubts about assuming his new public role, he isn’t showing them. As he ponders his appointment as the Laureate for Irish Fiction, news of which was announced on Thursday, Barry seems laid back to the point of serenity, if not jocularity.

“The public role of a writer is always going to seem infinitely more relaxed than the public role of almost anything else,” the 62-year-old says. “The best binman in the world would be more structured going around than a poor writer.”

That Barry is at ease with his new position, which he takes over from inaugural laureate Anne Enright, is testament to the experience he’s garnered as his four decades as an author. In that time he has gone from being a cocksure but brittle young poet and playwright to become, almost to his surprise, one of Ireland’s most acclaimed and accomplished novelists. He is more comfortable in himself and in his vocation.

But Barry’s readiness to accept the three-year role, which is awarded by the Arts Council in partnership with UCD, New York University and The Irish Times, was also helped by the fact that the selection panel contained fellow writers such as the poets Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley – “eternal people”, in his description.

“I do know that moment where Paul rings you, it seems very intimate and right and exciting,” he says, over coffee in the Arts Council’s offices. “It’s as if they have come en fete or in procession to your house, like an old medieval thing. And there’s something about that makes it highly validated.

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