When the Great War breaks out in 1914 Thomas Mann, like so many of his fellow countrymen, is fired up with patriotism. He imagines the Germany of great literature and music, which had drawn him away from the stifling, conservative town of his childhood, might be a source of pride once again. But his flawed vision will form the beginning of a dark and complex relationship with his homeland, and see the start of great conflict within his own brilliant and troubled family. Colm Tóibín's epic novel is the story of a man of intense contradictions. Although Thomas Mann becomes famous and admired, his inner life is hesitant, fearful and secretive. His blindness to impending disaster in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever and fascinating wife, Katia, while his own secret desires appear threaded through his writing. He and Katia deal with exile bravely, doing everything possible to keep the family safe, yet they also suffer the terrible ravages of suicide among Thomas's siblings, and their own children. In The Magician, Colm Tóibín captures the profound personal conflict of a very public life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century. WINNER OF THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE 2022 LONGLISTED FOR THE ABIA INTERNATIONAL BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022 PRAISE FOR THE MAGICIAN 'This graceful novel is a moving and intimate portrait by one master of another . . . It is a stunning tribute to the great man, and a vital story for now.' - Anna Funder 'The Magician is a remarkable achievement. Mann himself, one feels certain, would approve.' - John Banville 'As with everything Colm Tóibín sets his masterful hand to, The Magician is a great imaginative achievement - immensely readable, erudite, worldly and knowing, and fully realized.' - Richard Ford 'No living novelist dramatizes artistic creation as profoundly, as luminously, as Colm Tóibín, or conveys so well the entanglement of imagination and desire.' - Garth Greenwell 'The Magician recaptures a literary giant . . . Toibin's symphonic and moving novel humanizes [Mann]... Maximalist in scope but intimate in feeling' - The New York Times 'What Mr. Tóibín's exquisitely sensitive novel gets right, in a way that biography rarely does, is its acknowledgment of unknowability... one of the most sublime endings I've come across in a novel in a long time.' - The Wall Street Journal 'Extensively researched and lyrically wrought...a complex but empathetic portrayal of a writer in a lifelong battle against his innermost desires, his family and the tumultuous times they endure.' - Time, Best Books of Fall 2021 'It's hard not to talk about Colm Tóibín's latest novel, The Magician, in the loftiest of terms, as something staggering, or dazzling, or an achievement . . . these accolades feel deserving . . . [a] vast and stunningly realized world . . . you'll find yourself savoring every page.' - Vogue 'a work of huge imaginative sympathy . . . quite thrilling . . . It takes a writer of Tóibín's caliber to understand how the seemingly inconsequential details of life can be transmogrified, turned into art . . . an epic story of exile and literary grandeur' - Jay Parini, The New York Times Book Review 'An incisive and witty novel . . . it canters along not only on the strength of Tóibín's graceful prose, but also because the reader can hardly wait for the next bon mot from a family member or guest.' - Washington Post 'I got enormous pleasure from Colm Toibin's The Magician . . . frighteningly relevant now as we see fascism make an impossible return. It is a vast, original, emotionally complex novel' - Peter Carey 'Colm Tóibín's novel The Magician, about the complicated life and times of Thomas Mann, is another masterful work from Ireland's own magician.' - Damon Galgut
The Booker-shortlisted T ib n (House of Names) unfurls an expansive fictional biography of Thomas Mann, a Nobel laureate who was devoted to family, obsessed with physical beauty, and driven by desire. T ib n draws on excerpts from Mann's diary entries, exposing unrequited loves and erotic encounters with male classmates and boarders as a young man in L beck, Germany, around the turn of the 20th century. The Mann who emerges in these pages is a man led by dangerous impulses and constantly pursued by the "lure of death and the seductive charm of timeless beauty" who creates a thinly veiled depiction of a merchant family from L beck in Buddenbrooks, records his hypersexual attraction to a young Polish boy in Death in Venice, and draws from his visits to his ailing tubercular wife at a sanatorium for The Magic Mountain. An academic sojourn in Princeton and worldwide lecture tours lead a U.S. State Department official to tell him, "after Einstein, you are the most important German alive." But a series of traumatic events including several suicides (siblings and two of his six children) compound the effects of the wars and his struggles with his sexuality, and he goes into exile in the Pacific Palisades. The glory of music dominates much of the novel the strains of Wagner's Lohengrin; the "collision between bombast and subtlety" of Mahler's Eighth Symphony; and the glow said to have radiated from Bach when his music was performed, which Mann aspires to replicate in prose. This vibrates with the strength of Mann's visions and the sublimity of T ib n's mellifluous prose. T ib n has surpassed himself.