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Colm Tóibín gets around

An Irish author who is about to become a household name

Anthony Gardner | May/June 2015

It was “The Master”, Colm Tóibín’s book on Henry James, that confirmed his place in the first rank of contemporary writers, and the title looks like one that would suit Tóibín himself. He’s not yet a household name, but the film of his novel “Brooklyn” should nudge him in that direction: warmly received at Sundance, it is being mentioned as an Oscar contender. His stage appearances have the same quiet intensity as his prose, leavened with an engaging, ironic wit, and his talk on his most recent novel, “Nora Webster”, at the Charleston Festival on May 22nd promises to be fascinating. Inspired by his father’s death, it suffered a ten-year hiatus between chapters one and two. Also a formidable critic, Tóibín discusses his new book on Elizabeth Bishop—a key influence—at Manhattan’s Weill Art Gallery (April 19th) and the Hay Festival (May 23rd). And he takes over as chairman of the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature in New York, from its founder, Salman Rushdie: this year’s programme—co-devised by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—focuses on Africa. It’s all a long, long way from Enniscorthy. ~ ANTHONY GARDNER
PEN World Voices Festival May 4th-10th; worldvoices.pen.org

 

TALKS AT A GLANCE

Hay Festival (May 21st-31st). Stephen Fry returns as president; Kazuo Ishiguro, Germaine Greer, Anne Enright and Alan Cumming join him.

How The Light Gets In (Hay, May 23rd-31st). The upstart neighbour has Terry Eagleton, academia’s grandpère terrible, on fundamentalism, and Tim Lott, Joanne Harris and Meg Rosoff (see The Big Question) on innocence.

Daniel Barenboim (Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, May 26th). Prefacing his summer piano recitals, and looking at music’s role in life in a lecture commemorating Edward Said.

Sydney Writers’ Festival (May 18th-24th). Michael Frayn and Claire Tomalin are the husband-and-wife headliners; James Patterson gives a warm-up talk at Sydney Town Hall on May 8th. ~ AG

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