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Colm Tóibín Biography

(1955– ), The Dublin Sunday Independent, Esquire, London Review of Books, The South, The Blazing Heather

novel irish dublin

Irish novelist, born in Wexford, educated at University College, Dublin. He has worked as a journalist and columnist for The Dublin Sunday Independent, Esquire, and the London Review of Books. His first novel, The South (1990), deals with the encounter of Katherine Proctor, an Irish Protestant, with the Spanish Civil War activist Miguel in the aftermath of the events of 1939. Praised for its restraint and its subtlety of style, the novel foregrounds Tóibín's twin historical preoccupations with twentieth-century Spain and his native Ireland. The Blazing Heather (1992), Tóibín's second novel, was even more enthusiastically received; it tells, with compassion, intensity, and characteristic compression, of the relationship of a judge with his wife following his retirement. Though Tóibín displays evident similarities with his Irish contemporaries and predecessors, his nevertheless remains a fresh and original voice: less melodramatic than N. Jordan's, less mandarin than Banville's, and more attuned to the present than Trevor's. Tóibín was awarded the E. M. Forster Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995. An eloquent eassyist and writer of travelogues, he is also the author of the nonfiction works Walking Along the Border (1987), Homage to Barcelona (1990), and The Sign of the Cross (1995), his observations on Catholic Europe.

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