This season, we’re partnering with Novel Dialogue, a podcast where a novelist and a literary critic talk about novels from every angle: how we read them, write them, publish them, and remember them.
In this episode, Colm Tóibín, the new laureate for Irish fiction, talks to Joseph Rezek of Boston University, and guest host Tara K. Menon of Harvard. The conversation begins with Colm’s latest novel The Magician, about the life of Thomas Mann, and whether we can or should think of novelists as magicians and then moves swiftly from one big question to the next. What are the limitations of the novel as a genre? Would Colm ever be interested in a writing a novel about an openly gay novelist? Why and how does death figure in Colm’s fiction?
Each of Colm’s revealing, often deeply personal answers illuminates how both novels and novelists work. As Thomas Mann wrote of the “grubby business” of writing novels, Colm reminds us of the “day to day dullness of novel writing.” Insight and inspiration only arrive, he warns, after long, hard days of work.
View a transcript of the episode here.
Mentioned in this Episode
- Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe (1719)
- Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (1813)
- The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James (1881)
- The Wings of the Dove, Henry James (1902)
- The Ambassadors, Henry James (1903)
- The Golden Bowl, Henry James (1904)
- The Blackwater Lightship, Colm Tóibín (1999)
- The Master, Colm Tóibín (2004)
- Brooklyn, Colm Tóibín (2009)
- The Testament of Mary, Colm Tóibín (2012)
- Nora Webster, Colm Tóibín (2015)
- The Magician, Colm Tóibín (2021)