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

Celebrating Irish literature

Colm Tóibín

In conversation with Lynne Tillman
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, 2022
Page Hall, UAlbany Downtown Campus

135 Western Avenue
Albany NY 12203

Free and open to the public. Free parking. See map.

Note: Masks not required. Event subject to change. We encourage you to sign up for email updates to stay up-to-date on schedule information. 

Read an interview with Colm Tóibín interview published in the Albany Times Union on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2022

Colm Tóibín is widely hailed as a giant of contemporary Irish literature. His new novel is The Magician (2021), about the life of major 20th century fiction writer and 1929 Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann, author of Death in Venice (1912), and The Magic Mountain (1924).


The novel follows Mann from his provincial German childhood, and his struggles to conceal his artistic aspirations and homosexuality from his conservative family, through the upheavals of World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War.

Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. His 2009 novel Brooklyn was made into a feature film in 2015 by director John Crowley and a script written by Nick Hornby. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Tóibin last visited UAlbany in 2016 in association with a screening of BROOKLYN, based on his novel of the same name, and widely acclaimed as a Top 10 film of that year.

Lynne Tillman is the author of six novels, five collections of short stories, two collection of essays, and two other nonfiction books. A UAlbany English Professor and Writer-in-Residence, Tillman is a two-time National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for her essay collection, What Would Lynne Tillman Do? (2014), and for her novel, No Lease on Life (1998). Vulture named her 2006 novel, American Genius, A Comedy, “1 of the 100 Most Important Books of the 2000s... So Far.” 

From the publisher:

The Magician is a novel by one brilliant writer about another. Toibin captures the profound personal conflict of a very public writing life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century.


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 Toibin, credit Reynaldo Rivera-375pg.jpg
A book signing will follow the talk. Books will be available for purchase at the event or in advance at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.  Photo credit: Reynaldo Rivera
Colm Toibin, The Magician cover -375.jpg

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 will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his brilliant 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.

Praise for The Magician

Named a Best Book of 2021 by The Washington Post, The New York Times,, and VogueNamed a Most Anticipated Book by The Millions, LitHub, and Time


“Marvelously executed and absorbing…Colm Toíbín’s intelligence is great as his knowledge of literature and his empathetic imagination. He’s a magician too, a conjuror, but he reconstructs ghosts rather than banishes them. And it’s become clear that in his estimable body of work he’ll take on the cloaked lives of anyone.”—Joy William, Book Post 


“A fictional account of the life of Thomas Mann which is frighteningly relevant now as we see fascism make an impossible return. .. a vast, original, emotionally complex novel.”—Peter Carey, author of A Long Way from Home"


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


“In The Magician, Toibin delves into the layers of the great German novelist’s unconscious, inviting us to understand his fraught, monumental, complicated and productive life. It’s a work of huge imaginative sympathy…quite thrilling…It takes a writer of Toibin’s caliber to understand how the seemingly inconsequential details of life can be transmogrified, turned into art…[the novel’s] expansive and subtle rhythms carry the reader forward and backward in time, tracing an epic story of exile and literary grandeur, unpacking a major author’s psyche in such a way that the life of the imagination becomes, finally, the real and only tale worth telling.”—Jay Parini, The New York Times Book Review

More at



Masks are now optional in all places on UAlbany’s campuses. 

We strongly recommend unvaccinated individuals, as well as vaccinated individuals who have not yet received a COVID-19 booster, to continue wearing a mask. Individuals should not attend our in-person events if they — or anyone in their household — are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. UAlbany COVID guidelines.



Free parking will be available in the Thurlow Terrace lot, across the street from Page Hall. See map.

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