Acclaimed Irish author Colm Tóibín at the Nott Thursday

One of Ireland’s foremost living writers, Colm Tóibín, reads from his work Thursday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m., in the Nott Memorial.
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Acclaimed Irish author Colm Tóibín at the Nott Thursday


Colm Toibin

One of Ireland’s foremost living writers, Colm Tóibín, reads from his work Thursday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m., in the Nott Memorial.

The reading is free and open to the public.

An award-winning fiction writer and journalist, Tóibín is author of the 2009 novel “Brooklyn,” which was adapted into the successful 2015 film of the same name. Brooklyn is about a young Irish immigrant in New York who must choose between two countries and her life in each.

“We invited Colm Tóibín because members of our department admire his writing, as a fiction writer and as an essayist for The New York Review of Books and The London Review of Books,” said Jordan Smith, the Edward Everett Hale Jr. Professor of English.

Smith and Claire Bracken, associate professor of English, helped organize Toibon’s campus visit. Tóibín’s recent study of Elizabeth Bishop and Thom Gunn, On Elizabeth Bishop, aligns with Smith’s new course examining the work of these 20th century poets. Tóibín’s works are examined in Bracken’s Irish Literature and Film course, as well.

In addition, the author will hold a talk and Q-&-A with students in classes taught by Bracken, Smith and Kara Doyle, associate professor of English, during the Common Hour Thursday in Reamer Auditorium. 

Tóibin is no stranger to Union. The author has spent time on campus examining the collection of Yeats family material gathered by the late Lamont Professor of English William Murphy and to research material for his novel, The Master, about Henry James.

“He was particularly interested in the portrait of Henry James Sr. that is now hanging in the President’s House,” Smith said. “He will be continuing his work with Professor’s Murphy's collection while on campus.”

The Department of English has a long-standing interest in the study of Irish literature. Among the acclaimed Irish writers who have presented their work at Union are Anne Enright, Paula Meehan, John Montague, Tom Paulin and William Trevor.

Tóibín studied at University College Dublin and began his career as a journalist writing for In Dublin, Hibernia, Sunday Tribune and Dublin Sunday Independent. His experiences while living in Barcelona in the late 1970s influenced his first novel, “The South” (1980), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and won the Irish Times/Aer Lingus First Fiction Award. Since then he has published nine novels and numerous works of nonfiction, many of which have been bestsellers. The Blackwater Lightship (1999) and The Testament of Mary (2012) were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Tóibín was named one of Britain's Top 300 Intellectuals by The Observer and was hailed as a champion of minorities as he collected the 2011 Irish PEN Award. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

His Union reading is co-sponsored by a Mellon “Our Shared Humanities” grant, Minerva Programs, the John and Winifred Smith Literary Activities Fund of the Department of English, and the Internal Education Fund.

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