The Luck of the Irish: Colm Toibin on our Minds

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240px-Colm_toibin_2006.jpgIn honor of this great St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to pay tribute to Colm Tóibín, signed to guest edit the Spring 2011 Ploughshares.

Tóibín’s sixth novel Brooklyn has made a huge splash since publication in May 2009. Let’s check off the accolades: longlisted for the 2009 Booker Prize; winner of the 2009 Costa Novel Award; selected for One Book, One Chicago. Accepting his Costa prize, Tóibín said, “It does make a great difference to what publishers call sales and what I call readers.”

Liesl Schillinger, reviewing Brooklyn for The New York Times Book Review, describes Tóibín as “an expert, patient fisherman of submerged emotions.” She goes on: “Is it surprising if a seed grows where it lands, once it’s been scattered? Can it be helped? In ‘Brooklyn,’ Colm Tóibín quietly, modestly shows how place can assert itself, enfolding the visitor, staking its claim.” Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post praised Tóibín’s “affectionate but scarcely dewy-eyed” portrait of early 1950s Brooklyn.

toibin_story_1398964f.jpgOf course, Tóibín’s received praise for many of his previous works, especially his 2004 novel The Master, which depicts a rough patch in Henry James’s life and literary creation. And he’s also a well-regarded critic; his analysis of The Hakawati (Rabih Alameddine)and Cockroach (Rawi Hage) appears in the current New York Review of Books.

For a fascinating discussion of Tóibín’s craft, check out this Bookslut interview from last June. He speaks frankly about sexuality in his books, beach customs across continents, and his affection for the Catholic Church.

Tóibín starts working with us soon. Keep checking the blog for the latest on our upcoming guest editors!