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The Magician: A Novel by Colm Toibin

The Magician Colm Toibin The BookWalker

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From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War.

Colm Tóibín’s magnificent new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable.

Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone.

The Magician recaptures a literary giant… Symphonic and moving… Maximalist in scope but intimate in feeling.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children.

On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice.

He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. Mann is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers.

He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

In a stunning marriage of research and imagination, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire. 

The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile.

This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable.

As People magazine said about The Master, “It’s a delicate, mysterious process, this act of creation, fraught with psychological tension, and Tóibín captures it beautifully.”

“Tóibín’s novels typically depict an unfinished battle between those who know what they feel and those who don’t, between those who have found a taut peace within themselves and those who remain unsettled. His prose relies on economical gestures and moments of listening, and is largely shorn of metaphor and explanation.”

—D. T. Max, The New Yorker

“An ode to a 20th-century genius and a feat of literary sorcery in its own right.”

O Magazine

Publisher: Scribner
512 Pages
ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1476785080
Literary Fiction


Colm Tóibín is the author of ten novels, including The Magician, his most recent novel; The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary; and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections and several books of criticism. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. Three times shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

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