Birthday Girl Edna O’Brien

The baEdna O'Briengirl of Irish (or anybody’s) fiction, Edna O’Brien, was born December 15, 1930. She scandalized Irish readers and especially non-readers from her first novel, The Country Girls (1960), with the astonishing assertion that women might be interested in sex. I think she is the most banned contemporary writer, which never dissuaded her. She has an amazing ear for the English language, as anyone who has read Night, her feminist (and hilarious and heartbreaking) rejoinder to Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, can attest. In addition to a long list of novels, she has proved herself a master of the short story, and her memoir, called Country Girl (appropriately), explains much about her life and motivations. I don’t believe she’s capable of being less than interesting. Once upon a time she was described as the best Irish woman writer or the best woman novelist in English, but critics eventually wised up and dropped the gender modifier. Here’s her Paris Review interview: