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Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster. He lives in Dublin.
A great family drama about a young girl moving from Ireland to New Yok in search of work in the 1950's. Just as she feels life is going somewhere in Brooklyn she has to return to Ireland and the pleas of her family to stay. This is a beautifully told, atmospheric, coming-of-age drama. Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2009. The film adaptation of Brooklyn is due to be released in UK cinemas on Friday 6 November 2015. Click below to view the trailer.
Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award 2014. Nora Webster is the heartbreaking new novel from one of the greatest novelists writing today. It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them. Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true.
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary is the moving story of the Virgin Mary, told by a novelist famous for writing brilliantly about the family. From the author of Brooklyn, in a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief.
'I imagined lamplight, shadows, soft voices, clothes put away, the low sound of late news on the radio. And I thought as I crossed the bridge at Baggot Street to face the last stretch of my own journey home that no matter what I had done, I had not done that.' In the captivating stories that make up The Empty Family , Colm Toibin delineates with a tender and unique sensibility lives of unspoken or unconscious longing, of individuals, often willingly, cast adrift from their history. From the young Pakistani immigrant who seeks some kind of permanence in a strange town to the Irish woman reluctantly returning to Dublin and discovering a city that refuses to acknowledge her long absence each of Toibin's stories manage to contain whole worlds: stories of fleeing the past and returning home, of family threads lost and ultimately regained.
Shortlisted for the Galaxy International Author of the Year 2010. December 2010 Good Housekeeping selection. Good Reading for Christmas by Maureen Lipman... 'The sensitive man in my life will get Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn. He portrays the young Irish girl Eilis Lacey by never directly telling the reader what she is thinking. If men want to know more about women, this is the one to get.’ Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "A wonderfully-observed story of love and loss." A great family drama about a young girl moving from Ireland to New Yok in search of work in the 1950's. Just as she feels life is going somewhere in Brooklyn she has to return to Ireland and the pleas of her family to stay. This is a beautifully told, atmospheric, coming-of-age drama.
Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "A wonderfully-observed story of love and loss." A great family drama about a young girl moving from Ireland to New Yok in search of work in the 1950's. Just as she feels life is going somewhere in Brooklyn she has to return to Ireland and the pleas of her family to stay. This is a beautifully told, atmospheric, coming-of-age drama.
A beautifully written collection of stories about mother/son relationships. Thoroughly absorbing and moving. June 2010 Guest Editor Patrick Gale on Colm Toibin... Admirers of Toibin’s novels won’t feel short-changed here for, like Chekhov and Carver, his grasp of the short story form is so confident that each story packs the emotional wallop of a novel. The only problem is that many are so strong, so moving, that you can’t read them back-to-back but need time off to recover.
Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2006. Now in paperback this Man Booker shortlisted novel follows five years in the life of Henry James directly after his play ‘Guy Domville” flopped on the London stage. An intelligent and moving read.
An intimate study of three of Ireland's greatest writers from one of its best-loved contemporary voices __________________ 'A father...is a necessary evil.' Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Colm Toibin takes three of Ireland's greatest writers - Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce - and examines their earliest influences: their fathers. With his inimitable wit and sensitivity, Toibin introduces us to Wilde Senior, the philandering doctor whose libel case prefigured that of his son; the elder Yeats, an impoverished artist who never finished a painting; and to John Stanislaus Joyce, the hard-drinking, storytelling father of James, who couldn't feed his own family. This is an illuminating study of how each of these men cast a long shadow not only over the lives of their famous sons, but over the works for which they are celebrated and cherished. __________________ 'Astonishing to read. Toibin has a hawk-like eye for literary subtleties, and a generosity towards his subjects that is warm' Sunday Times 'Funny, exciting, illuminating, wonderful, so engaging. Tells us more than a little about our own selves along the way' Irish Times 'There is something interesting and insightful on almost every page' Observer 'Sparkling, subtle, witty and often deeply moving . . . A classic' Fintan O'Toole, New Statesman 'Scintillating, imaginative, enlightening and powerfully moving throughout' Roy Foster, Spectator
With an introduction by award-winning novelist Tessa Hadley In January 1895 Henry James anticipates the opening of his first play, Guy Domville, in London. The production fails, and he returns, chastened and humiliated, to his writing desk. The result is a string of masterpieces, but they are produced at a high personal cost. In The Master Colm Toibin captures the exquisite anguish of a man who circulated in the grand parlours and palazzos of Europe, who was astonishingly vibrant and alive in his art, and yet whose attempts at intimacy inevitably failed him and those he tried to love. It is a powerful account of the hazards of putting the life of the mind before affairs of the heart.
Colm Toibin's Brooklyn is a devastating story of love, loss and one woman's terrible choice between duty and personal freedom. It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home - and homesick. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma - a devastating choice between duty and one great love. 'With this elating and humane novel, Colm Toibin has produced a masterwork' Sunday Times 'The most compelling and moving portrait of a young woman I have read in a long time' Zoe Heller Guardian, Books of the Year 'A work of such skill, understatement and sly jewelled merriment could haunt your life' Ali Smith TLS, Books of the Year
THE TOP 10 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER 'Unforgettable' Mary Beard 'They cut her hair before they dragged her to the place of sacrifice. Her mouth was gagged to stop her cursing her father, her cowardly, two-tongued father. Nonetheless, they heard her muffled screams.' On the day of his daughter's wedding, Agamemnon orders her sacrifice. His daughter is led to her death, and Agamemnon leads his army into battle, where he is rewarded with glorious victory. Three years later, he returns home and his murderous action has set the entire family - mother, brother, sister - on a path of intimate violence, as they enter a world of hushed commands and soundless journeys through the palace's dungeons and bedchambers. As his wife seeks his death, his daughter, Electra, is the silent observer to the family's game of innocence while his son, Orestes, is sent into bewildering, frightening exile where survival is far from certain. Out of their desolating loss, Electra and Orestes must find a way to right these wrongs of the past even if it means committing themselves to a terrible, barbarous act. House of Names is a story of intense longing and shocking betrayal. It is a work of great beauty, and daring, from one of our finest living writers. 'A masterpeice' Daily Telegraph 'Devastatingly human ... hauntingly believable' Guardian 'A celebration of what novels can do' Observer
Depicting characters like the eponymous young sculptor in Roderick Hudson and spaces like the crowded galleries in The Wings of the Dove, Henry James's iconic novels reflect the significance of the visual culture of his society. In this book, novelist and critic Colm Toibin joins art historian Marc Simpson and Declan Kiely of The Morgan Library & Museum to reveal how essential the language and imagery of the arts-and friendships with artists-were to James's writing. The authors consider the paintings, photographs, drawings, and sculpture produced by artists in James's circle, assess how his pictorial aesthetic developed, and discuss why he destroyed so many personal documents and what became of those that survived. In examining works by figures such as John La Farge, Hendrik Andersen, and John Singer Sargent alongside selections from James's novels, personal letters, and travel writings, Toibin, Simpson, and Kiely explore the novelist's artistic and social milieu. They show him to be a writer with a painterly eye for colors and textures, shapes and tastes, and for the blending of physical and psychological impressions. In many cases, the characters populating James's fiction are ciphers for his artist friends, whose demeanors and experiences inspired James to immortalize them on the page. He also wrote critically about art, most notably about the work of his friend Sargent. A refreshing new perspective on a master novelist who was greatly nourished by his friendships with artists, Henry James and American Painting reveals a James whose literary imagination, in Toibin's words, seemed most at ease with the image and the work of creating fully realized portraits of his characters.
* Winner of the 2018 Audie Award for Best Literary Fiction/Classic * A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book of the Year * Named a Best Book of 2017 by NPR, The Guardian, The Boston Globe, St. Louis Dispatch From the thrilling imagination of bestselling, award-winning Colm Tibn comes a retelling of the story of Clytemnestraa spectacularly audacious, violent, vengeful, lustful, and instantly compelling queen of Greek mythologyand her children.';I have been acquainted with the smell of death.' So begins Clytemnestra's tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon on the day of his return after nine years at war. Judged, despised, cursed by gods she has long since lost faith in, Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter Iphigeneia with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her because that is what he was told would make the winds blow in his favor and take him to Troy; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus, who shared her bed in the dark and could kill; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayalhis quest for victory, greater than his love for his child. In House of Names, Colm Tibn brings a modern sensibility and language to an ancient classic, and gives this extraordinary character new life, so that we not only believe Clytemnestra's thirst for revenge, but applaud it. He brilliantly inhabits the mind of one of Greek myth's most powerful villains to reveal the love, lust, and pain she feels. Told in fours parts, this is a fiercely dramatic portrait of a murderess, who will herself be murdered by her own son, Orestes. It is Orestes' story, too: his capture by the forces of his mother's lover Aegisthus, his escape and his exile. And it is the story of the vengeful Electra, who watches over her mother and Aegisthus with cold anger and slow calculation, until, on the return of her brother, she has the fates of both of them in her hands.
It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey, as for so many young Irish girls, opportunities are scarce. So when her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, Eilis knows she must go, leaving behind her family and her home for the first time. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. She is far from home - and homesick. And just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship, and perhaps something more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma - a devastating choice between duty and one great love.
In this book, novelist Colm Toibin offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences--the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Toibin creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue readers interested in both Bishop and Toibin. For Toibin, the secret of Bishop's emotional power is in what she leaves unsaid. Exploring Bishop's famous attention to detail, Toibin describes how Bishop is able to convey great emotion indirectly, through precise descriptions of particular settings, objects, and events. He examines how Bishop's attachment to the Nova Scotia of her childhood, despite her later life in Key West and Brazil, is related to her early loss of her parents--and how this connection finds echoes in Toibin's life as an Irish writer who has lived in Barcelona, New York, and elsewhere. Beautifully written and skillfully blending biography, literary appreciation, and descriptions of Toibin's travels to Bishop's Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil, On Elizabeth Bishop provides a fresh and memorable look at a beloved poet even as it gives us a window into the mind of one of today's most acclaimed novelists.
* * * Shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Novel Awards and the 2015 Folio Prize * * * Nora Webster is the heartbreaking new novel from one of the greatest novelists writing today. It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them. Slowly, through the gift of music and the power of friendship, she finds a glimmer of hope and a way of starting again. As the dynamic of the family changes, she seems both fiercely self-possessed but also a figure of great moral ambiguity, making her one of the most memorable heroines in contemporary fiction. The portrait that is painted in the years that follow is harrowing, piercingly insightful, always tender and deeply true. Colm Toibin's Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience. 'A profoundly gifted world writer' Sebastian Barry
With an introduction by Roy Foster A classic work of Irish literature, this award-winning novel is an exploration of love, art and identity. This was the night train to Barcelona, some hours before the dawn. This was 1950, late September. I had left my husband. I had left my home. Katherine Proctor has dared to leave her family in Ireland and reach out for a new life. Determined to become an artist, she flees to Spain, where she meets Miguel, a passionate man who has fought for his own freedoms. They retreat to the quiet intensity of the mountains and begin to build a life together. But as Miguel's past catches up with him, Katherine too is forced to re-examine her relationships: with her lover, her painting and the homeland she only thought she knew. . . The South is the book that introduced readers to the astonishing gifts of Colm Toibin, winning the Irish Times First Fiction Award in 1991. Arrestingly visual and enduringly atmospheric, it is a classic novel of art, sacrifice, and courage.
From one of contemporary literatures bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, a magnificent new novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four, navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tibns superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a havenherself. Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, beautiful and daring (The New York Times Book Review) and able to sneak up on readers and capture their imaginations (USA TODAY). In Nora Webster, Tibn has created a character as iconic, engaging and memorable as Madame Bovary or Hedda Gabler.
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