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The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex fictional portrait of Thomas Mann and his family--his brother Heinrich, his six children, and 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 finally exile. This is a man fiercely engaged by the world, yet completely closeted when it came to his own homosexuality, and who, when on a holiday in Italy, becomes completely besotted with a boy he sees on a beach and writes his most famous story, Death in Venice (curiously, three of his grown children were open in their sexual fluidity, but Mann never publicly acknowledged his feelings for men). He was the most successful novelist of his time, writing some of the greatest works of European literature (Buddenbrooks, The Magic Mountain), and won the Nobel Prize in literature, but a public man whose private life always remained secret, and who would never return to the country that inspired his creativity. A wonderful blend of research and imagination exploring the deep roots of German culture, The Magician reads as a grand family saga and an epic historical novel played out against the dramatic backdrop of the calamitous, tumultuous 20th century. It is erotically charged, as Mann confides in his diaries his most homoerotic thoughts, desires, and hidden passions. Ed loved and highly recommends!
A New York Times Notable Book, Critic’s Top Pick, and Top Ten Book of Historical Fiction
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, NPR, Vogue, The Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg Businessweek
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 that is “a feat of literary sorcery in its own right” (Oprah Daily).
The Magician 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. 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. He 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 this “exquisitely sensitive” (The Wall Street Journal) novel, Tóibín has crafted “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), and “you’ll find yourself savoring every page” (Vogue).
About the Author
Colm Tóibín is the author of ten novels, including The Magician, winner of the Rathbones Folio Prize; 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 and has been named as the Laureate for Irish Fiction for 2022–2024 by the Arts Council of Ireland. Three times shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.
Praise for The Magician
“Marvelously executed and absorbing…” —Joy Williams, Book Post
"Maximalist in scope but intimate in feeling...” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“A work of huge imaginative sympathy…quite thrilling… an epic story of exile and literary grandeur.” —Jay Parini, The New York Times Book Review
“An incisive and witty novel that shows what good company the Nobelist and his family might have been… vividly alive…” —Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post
“Powerful… The Magician masterfully weaves together Tóibín’s take on Mann’s personal and interior life… a stirring paean to literature and music… a magnificent achievement.” —Heller McAlpin, The Christian Science Monitor
"Staggering… dazzling… You’ll find yourself savoring every page." —Vogue
“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
“An ode to a 20th-century genius and a feat of literary sorcery in its own right.” —O Magazine
“An intimate portrait of Thomas Mann… In The Magician, Tóibín presents a rare view into the making of serious art and, in the process, shows he is a powerful magician himself.” —Chicago Review of Books
“Compelling… This is an enormously ambitious book, one in which the intimate and the momentous are exquisitely balanced…Tóibín has fashioned an epic.” —The Guardian