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Features - Colm Tóibín

Tuesday 13th June 2006: Colm Tóibín is the first Irish writer to win the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In this the 11th year of the Award, the Lord Mayor, Councillor Catherine Byrne announced that Tóibin's novel The Master has won the £100,000 prize - the world's richest literary prize for a single work of fiction published in English. The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries and sponsored by IMPAC (Improved Management Productivity and Control) an international company with its headquarters based in Florida, USA.

The Master was chosen by an international panel of judges, having been nominated by 17 libraries worldwide.

"It's an honour to present such a fine writer as Colm Tóibín, with the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award - the largest and most international prize of its kind", says Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Catherine Byrne. "Libraries from all corners of the globe nominate entries and the Award is open to books written in any language. The Award is a Dublin City Council initiative and a partnership between Dublin City Council and IMPAC, a productivity improvement company operating in over 50 countries. The Award is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries".

Colm Toibin is unquestionably one of Ireland's leading contemporary writers. To celebrate the paperback release of his finest novel yet, the award-winning The Master, Read Ireland Book News have selected a representative range of his work and offer it at a discounted price.

The Master

Synopsis: It is January 1895 and Henry James's play, Guy Domville, from which he hoped make his fortune, has failed on the London stage. Opening with this disaster, The Master spans the next five years of James's life, during which time he moves to Rye in Sussex, having found his dream retreat. There he writes his short masterpiece The Turn Of The Screw, a tale in which he incorporates many details from his own life, including his experiences as a member of one of the great eccentric American families and, later, an exile in England. Impelled by the need to work and haunted by his past - including his failure to fight in the American Civil War, and the golden summer of 1865, and the death of his sister Alice - James is watchful and witty, relishing the England in which he has come to live and regretting the New England he has left.

Review Quotations:

John Carey, Sunday Times
'Toibin makes James seem more human than, for me, Leon Edel's famous biography ever did.'

Anne Chisholm in Sunday Telegraph, November 2004
'In its quiet way, this novel's imaginative truthfulness crosses boundaries and challenges biographers.'

The Independent
Exquisitely crafted and full of finely nuanced psychological observation. It is also profoundly moving.

The Times, Paperback of the Week
'Only the quality of execution need be considered: Tóibín's nears perfection'

'Unerring poignancy. Tóibín writes with an undemonstrative precision perfectly suited to its subject'
Sunday Times
'Tóibín deftly mingles conjecture with fact as he explores a fascinating family background. intriguing'

The Blackwater Lightship

Published 1999.

It is Ireland in the early 1990's. Three women - Dora Devereux, her daughter Lily and her granddaughter Helen - have arrived, after years of strife, at and uneasy peace. For Helen's adored brother Declan is dying, and the three of them join him in the grandmother's crumbling old house by the sea with two of his friends. These six, from different generations and with different beliefs, are forced to listen to each other and come to terms with each other. 'We shall be reading and living with The Blackwater Lightship in twenty years.' Independent on Sunday

'I know of no novelist under fifty who is Toibin's equal. And in this, his fourth book, his prose rises to heights of an extraordinary beauty.' Paul Binding, Independent on Sunday

'It is in his emotional choreography that Toibin shows himself to be an exceptional writer. Helen is estranged from both her mother and grandmother...Toibin helps them make peace - and he does it beautifully.' David Robson, Sunday Telegraph

'This is the most astonishing piece of writing, lyrical in its emotion and spare in its construction...Toibin has crafted an unmissable read.' Julia Neuberger, Glasgow Sunday Herald.

'He writes in spare, powerful prose and he is truly perceptive about family relationships which, at times, makes reading his stories incredibly painful. But this is a beautiful novel.' Nuala McCann, Belfast News.

The Heather Blazing

Published 1993. Eamon Redmon is a much admired and successful judge in Dublin, happily married to Carmel and father of two grown-up children, Naimh and Donel. Every summer the family stays in a beautiful house on the coast at Ballyconnigor. It is here, on summer, that Eamon reflects on his life as a judge.

The South
Published 1990. Katherine tries to make friends in Barcelona.
She joins a painter's class and meets Miguel, an artist who fought with the Republicans, but is now terrorized by Franco's police. They settle in the Pyrenees, but dreadful things are in stall. This novel won The Irish Aer Lingus Literature Prize 1991.

Non Fiction

The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe

Published 2001.

For four years from 1990, Colm Toibin made a series of trips through Catholic Europe. The result is this beautifully wrought book. He shows the complications and contradictions of the Catholic Church, and tries to unravel how they in turn influence a country's sense of nationalism. It is not quite a travelogue, nor is it autobiographical. Rather it is a work that tests both faith and the written word, a work that redefines what we have come to expect from non-fiction. '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' Sean Dunne, Irish Times

'A mixture of autobiography, travelogue and journalism which tantalises the reader with what it witholds 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

Love in a Dark Time

Published 2001. An exceptional collection of essays on sexuality and creativity, in Love in a Dark Time, Colm Toibin looks at the life and work of some of the greatest and most influential artists and writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, figures in the main whose homosexuality remained hidden or oblique for much of their lives. Either by choice or necessity, being gay seemed to come second for many of these writers. Yet in their private lives, and also in the spirit of their work, the laws of desire changed everything for them and made all the difference. Ranging from figures such as Oscar Wilde, born in the 1850s, to Pedro Almodovar, born a hundred years later, this book examines how a changing world altered lives in ways both subtle and fundamental. Colm Toibin interweaves a close reading of the works with detailed analysis of the personalities behind them, to illuminating effect.

Homage to Barcelona

Published 1990. This title is a personal and carefully research account of Barcelona, from its founding to its huge growth in the 19th century. The author covers the city's: history; art and architecture; great churches and museums; cafes; port life;restaurants and fashionable nightclubs.

Bad Blood: A Walk Along the Irish Border

Published 1987. Soon after the Anglo-Irish Agreement, when the tension was at a peak in Northern Ireland, Colm Toibin travelled along the Irish border from Derry to Newry. Bad Blood tells of fear and anger, and of the historical legacy that has imprinted itself on the landscape and its inhabitants. Marches, demonstrations and funerals are the rituals observed by the communities that live along this route. With insight and intelligence Toibin listens to the stories that are told, and unfolds for the reader the complex unhappiness of this fraught border. 'Toibin has the narrative poise of Brian Moore and the patient eye for domestic detail of John McGahern, but he is very much his own man.' Kate Kellaway, Observer

'High class reportage...Toibin was conscientious about talking to real people, not just "names" with a good line in TV chat, and went to see and hear and sense things at a local, grassroots level' Irish Times All above books are paperbacks, specially priced at 11 Euro each for this promotion only. Buy 3 or more and get an extra 10% discount.

Ireland on the Edge of Europe by Photographs by Agnes Pataux
with an introduction by Colm Toibin

Agnes Pataux has travelled extensively throughout Ireland, photographing its ancient, majestic, nature-dominated landscapes. Her photographs - intense and solitary - speak to us of the primordial forces of nature, forces that have shaped both the extraordinary natural environs and the psyche of an enduring people, the Irish. Pataux is bound to particular sites, attracted by geological formations and manmade phenomena: the famine walls of the 1840s; the rugged Burren coast, blanketed in grey limestone, crisscrossed by splits and cracks that form a haunting geometry; Connemara with its wild and desolate bogs;County Antrim where nature has created the monolithic, hexagonal-shaped stone pavements of the mythological Giant's Causeway; and the coasts of the Aran Islands with their high cliffs beaten and broken by endless waves. Finally, the portraits of the men of these Emerald Islands show a people profoundly marked by their environment - one that has shaped the people, the one that the people in turn have shaped. All remain as indelible traces of an ancient past. These powerful images that have captured the mind and soul of Agnes Pataux are presented here through eighty stunning duotone photographs. The text, by novelist and critic Colm Toibin, introduces the reader to the outstanding landscapes of Ireland through literary evocations. (Hardback; 35 Euro / 42 USD / 25 UK)

Visit Colm Toibin at

View more info and buy all of the above books at :


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