Colm Toibin biography

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Colm Toibin
Photo: Bruce Weber

Colm Toibin

How to pronounce Colm Toibin: CULL-um Toe-BEAN

Colm Toibin Biography

Colm Tóibín was born in 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, the second youngest of five children. He graduated from University College Dublin in 1975 and promptly moved to Barcelona for three years. His experiences in Spain informed his first novel The South (1990). Tóibín returned to Ireland to pursue a masters but never matriculated. He left academia for a career in journalism and was editor of the prominent Irish news magazine Macgill from 1982 to 1985. He has taught literature and creative writing at Princeton and Stanford Universities, among others, and currently lives in Dublin.

Along with writing a number of critically-acclaimed novels, Tóibín has also worked as a critic and editor of a variety of anthologies, like The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction in 1999. He has twice been short-listed for the Mann Booker Prize, for The Blackwater Lightship (1999) and The Master (2004), and won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for The Master.  He is also the author of the novels The Heather Blazing (1992) and The Story of the Night (1996); a short story collection, Mothers & Sons (2006); a play, Beauty in a Broken Place (2004); and a novella, The Use of Reason (2006).

In 2008, a book of essays on his work, Reading Colm Toibin, edited by Paul Delaney, was published. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster and from University College Dublin. He is a regular contributor to the Dublin Review, the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books. He was also Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester in the autumn of 2011. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His second collection of stories, The Empty Family, was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor Prize. His collection of essays on Henry James, All a Novelist Needs, appeared also in 2010. In 2011 his play Testament, dirercted by Garry Hynes, was performed in the Dublin Theatre Festival with Marie Mullen in the lead role. Also in 2011, his memoir A Guest at the Feast was published by Penguin UK as a Kindle original.

Tóibín's books tend to revolve around a number of repeating themes - depiction of Irish society; the experience of the immigrant; and creativity and the preservation of personal identity, both in the face of loss and in the experience of homosexuality. The Heather Blazing, The Blackwater Lightship and Brooklyn use the town of Enniscorthy as literary material, while others, like The Master, deal with homosexual identity and take place, for the most part, outside of Ireland.

In 2012 his new collection of essays New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers & Their Families will be published (February in UK; June in US).

Colm Toibin's website

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Books by this Author

Books by Colm Toibin at BookBrowse
House of Names jacket Nora Webster jacket The Testament of Mary jacket The Empty Family jacket
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