Tóibín, Colm

Tóibín, Colm, 1955–, Irish writer, b. Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, grad. University College, Dublin (1975). A prolific and varied author who prose is lucid and often brilliant, Tóibín has written novels, short stories, plays, essays, travel books, and journalism. His works often center on questions of identity, often homosexual (he is openly gay), family, abandonment, and the significance of home. While working as a journalist and editing (1982–84) Magill magazine, he wrote two books inspired by his time (1976–78) in Barcelona, The South (1990) a novel, and Homage to Barcelona (1990). Other early travel books include Bad Blood: Walking along the Border (1987) and Dubliners (1990). His best-known novels are probably The Master (2004), a fictionalized life of Henry James, and Brooklyn (2009, film 2015), the story of a young woman who, in the early 1950s, moves from Ireland to Brooklyn, N.Y., and is forced to return to Ireland. Other novels include The Heather Blazing (1992), The Blackwater Lightship (1999, film 2004), The Testament of Mary (2012), Nora Webster (2014), and House of Names (2017), a retelling of Clytemnestra's life. Tóibín's short stories have been collected in Mothers and Sons (2006) and The Empty Family (2011); his plays include Beauty in a Broken Place (2004) and Testament (2011). His journalism and essays are collected in such books as The Trial of the Generals (1990) and New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families (2012). Tóibín has taught Princeton, Stanford, Manchester, Columbia, and other universities.

See his memoir, A Guest at the Feast (2011); studies by P. Delaney, ed. (2008), K. Costello-Sullivan (2012), and E. Walshe (2013).

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