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Colm Toibin

Born in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Toibin is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet. Before becoming a full-time author, he worked in journalism and was the editor of monthly magazine Magill from 1982 to 1985.

He published his first novel The South in 1990 and his book The Blackwater Lightship was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 1999. He writes in cramped conditions, refuses to watch television and now lives in Dublin.



Colm Toibin Books

  • AAADI
    (1)
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    A captivating read from Irish author Colm Toibin, Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young girl growing up in Ireland in the early 1950s. With opportunities scarce in her home country, Eilis emigrates to New York. After arriving in Brooklyn, Eilis starts to feel homesick and just as things are starting to look positive as she makes a friendship - possibly more - she receives devastating news which takes her back to Ireland. She then has to make a choice between duty and one great love.

  • AMDIQ
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    This book was shortlisted for the 2014 Costa Novel Awards. 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). Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy in 1955. He is the author of seven other 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. In 2014 Nora Webster was shortlisted for the Costa Novel Awards. He lives in Dublin.
  • AGYZL
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    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. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change. As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human. Praise for "The Testament of Mary": "This is a short book, but it is as dense as a diamond. It is as tragic as a Spanish pieta, but it is completely heretical...Toibin maintains all the dignity of Mary without subscribing to the myths that have accumulated around her". (Edmund White, "Irish Times"). "Depicting the harrowing losses and evasions that can go on between mothers and sons ...Toibin creates a reversed Pieta: he holds the mother in his arms". ("Independent"). "A beautiful and daring work ...it takes its power from the surprise of its language, its almost shocking characterization". (Mary Gordon, "New York Times"). Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels, including "The Blackwater Lightship", "The Master", both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and "Brooklyn", which won the Costa Novel Award, and two collections of stories, "Mothers and Sons" and "The Empty Family".
  • ALZDV
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    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.
  • AGDUA
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    From Colm Toibin comes "New Ways to Kill Your Mother", a fabulously entertaining book about writers and their families. In this wonderfully entertaining and enlightening collection, Colm Toibin not only explores the often tense relationship between writers and their families but also conveys, with a rare tenderness and wit, the great joy of reading their work. Here is W.B. Yeats harshly responding to his own father's literary efforts; Thomas Mann ruining his children's prospects; Tennessee Williams haunted by his sister's mental illness; and John Cheever being beastly to his wife. Praise for New Ways to Kill Your Mother: "A brilliant book...Toibin is a supple, subtle thinker, alive to hints and undertones, wary of absolute truths". (Robert Hanks, "New Statesman"). "A penetrating and often very funny inquiry into the fraught complicity between parent and child, brother and sister". ("Daily Telegraph"). "Insightful and compassionate, assured and knowledgeable, never less than fascinating. An impressive, fine and engaging collection". ("Independent on Sunday"). Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of seven novels, including "The Master" which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize , Brooklyn which won the Costa Novel Award and, most recently, "The Testament of Mary", and two volumes of short stories. His non-fiction includes "Lady Gregory's Toothbrush" and "Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almovodar". He is a contributing editor at the "London Review of Books" and has been visiting writer at Stanford, Princeton, the University of Texas at Austin and Manchester University. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.
  • BBCHB
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    '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.
  • APHET
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    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. Arriving in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn, Eilis can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. 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.
  • AAFAY
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    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.
  • BOIJF
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    THE TOP 10 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER '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.
  • ABRHW
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    '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.
  • ABVDG
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    Between 1990 and 1994, Colm Toibin made a series of trips through Catholic Europe, and then set down his impressions in this beautifully written book. His journey led him into close contact with people from all walks of life, from priests to politicians, from the intellectually open to the spiritually bigoted. Filled with personal detail set within its historical context, this is Toibin at his finest and most insightful. 'Colm Toibin writes beautifully in a spare style that allows for plain description, high humour and effects that are carefully toned. He is at once an honest, uncertain pilgrim with a press card and a sense of devilment, and a son on an Oedipal trail' - "Irish Times". 'A mixture of autobiography, travelogue and journalism which tantalizes the reader with what it withholds as much as it entertains and instructs with what it describes ..."The Sign of the Cross", like all good writing, is a treat' - "Independent on Sunday". 'This book describing Colm Toibin's journey is written with the novelist's familiar clarity and wisdom. It is as much a record of the European Catholic psyche in different political climates as it is an introspective pilgrimage to see what stuff Toibin's own faith is made of' - "Daily Telegraph".
  • ABVDY
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    In "Love in a Dark Time", Colm Toibin looks at the life and work of some of the greatest and most influential artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His subjects range from figures such as Oscar Wilde, born in the 1850s, to Pedro Almodovar, born nearly a hundred years later. Toibin studies how a changing world impacted on the lives of people who, on the whole, kept their homosexuality hidden, and reveals that the laws of desire changed everything for them, both in their private lives and in the spirit of their work. 'Honest, stimulating, perceptive...Toibin treats his subject with confidence and authority, both of which attributes are only strengthened by his moderation of tone and the depth of his compassion. He writes with rare tenderness of figures as disparate as Elizabeth Bishop and Francis Bacon, Thomas Mann and Roger Casement, Thom Gunn and Pedro Almodovar' - John Banville, "Irish Times". 'Such readings are crucial, for it is only when homosexuality is removed from the margins and placed at the very heart of the cultural canon that the world predicted by Toibin in which 'being gay will no longer involve difficulty and discrimination' will come to pass' - Michael Arditti, "The Times". 'Toibin writes with high-voltage restraint; his sentences are masterfully devoid of trickery...He is tuned in to the silent language of families, the messages that are unspoken and slip past the rest of the world, landing deep into the hearts of those who understand' - Robert Sullivan, "Vogue".
  • AEBPN
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    No book since Mrs Shelley's Frankenstein, or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality, or terror - Poe is nowhere..."-Charlotte Stoker (Mother of Bram Stoker). Originally published in 1897, Bram Stoker's Dracula has spawned countless new editions, inspired over fifty films, and hundreds of reimaginings. The iconic and terrifying character of Stoker's imagination has permeated our conciousness in such away that Dracula is the seminal vampire of popular culture. Set across London and into the darkest corners of Eastern Europe, Dracula is told through the journal entries and letters of its protagonists as they strive to survive the presence of Count Dracula in their lives. Young lawyer Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to assist in a land transaction, but finds himself trapped in the Count's castle, tormented by strange and unearthly occurrences. After a miraculous escape, he returns to England, only to find that the Count has followed him to London and has begun tracking his fiance, Mina...Reprinted in its original form, this edition of Dracula is perfect for a first time reader, or as a classic to keep forever.
  • AEBUB
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    No book since Mrs Shelley's "Frankenstein", or indeed any other at all has come near yours in originality, or terror - Poe is nowhere..." Charlotte Stoker (Mother of Bram Stoker). Originally published in 1897, Bram Stoker's "Dracula" has spawned countless new editions, inspired over fifty films, and hundreds of reimaginings. The iconic and terrifying character of Stoker's imagination has permeated our consciousness in such a way that Dracula is the seminal vampire of popular culture. Set across London and into the darkest corners of Eastern Europe, "Dracula" is told through the journal entries and letters of its protagonists as they strive to survive the presence of Count Dracula in their lives. Young lawyer Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to assist in a land transaction, but finds himself trapped in the Count's castle, tormented by strange and unearthly occurrences. After a miraculous escape, he returns to England, only to find that the Count has followed him to London and has begun tracking his fiance, Mina...Reprinted in its original form, this edition of "Dracula" is perfect for a first time reader, or as a classic to keep forever.
  • AZWTL
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    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.
  • BJONQ
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    Sean Scully is one of today's best-loved abstract painters. His familiar signature style of lines or bands of colour, alluding to architectural elements such as portals, windows and walls, is one of the most instantly recognizable in contemporary painting. This book brings together for the first time his photographs of the dry stone walls found on the Aran Islands, off the west coast of Ireland.
  • BPYXG
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    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.
  • BSMQK
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    'A father...is a necessary evil.' Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses In Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know Colm Toibin turns his incisive gaze to three of Ireland's greatest writers, Oscar Wilde, W.B. Yeats and James Joyce, and their earliest influences: their fathers. From Wilde's doctor father, a brilliant statistician and amateur archaeologist, who was taken to court by an obsessed lover in a strange premonition of what would happen to his son; to Yeats' father, an impoverished artist and brilliant letter-writer who could never finish apainting; to John Stanislus Joyce, a singer, drinker and story-teller, a man unwilling to provide for his large family, whom his son James memorialised in his work. Colm Toibin illuminates not only the complex relationships between three of the greatest writers in the English language and their fathers, but also illustrates the surprising ways they surface in their work.