Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of Nora Webster, and seven other novels, including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.
In elegantly crafted prose, Irish author Tóibin (The South; The Heather Blazing) delivers a rewarding narrative that blends themes of personal intensity and historical import. Set in Buenos Aires in the 1980s, the novel follows the fortunes of Richard Garay, a young man who is desperately lonely in a country where his homosexuality is still unacceptable, and who is further distanced‘this is just after the Falklands War‘by his British origins. These prove invaluable, however, when he becomes involved with the American diplomatic elite, ostensibly stationed there as "advisers" but in effect securing U.S. strategic interests as the military regime of the generals slowly ends. Although Richard prospers professionally as a translator and consultant, the furtive nature of his personal life leaves him unfulfilled until he meets Pablo. Their stable and loving relationship brings him happiness, and, through his new lover's visiting American friends, Richard glimpses the potential of gay life in a freer society. The book succeeds seamlessly on two levels. Through Richard's work, we get a fascinating view of Argentina in transition: the corruption of the old state; the manipulation of a troubled country by a superpower; the widespread shame over and denial of the political disappearances. Through Richard's own coming-of-age story, we also bear witness, in Tóibin's evocative cadences, to a more international yet deeply personal crisis: the devastation of AIDS. Tóibin writes with meticulous control and an understatement that makes the deeply moving and surprisingly consoling ending absolutely real. (May)
Tóibín (The Heather Blazing, LJ 2/1/93) lives in Ireland, but his newest novel successfully re-creates the turmoil and confusion of the postmilitary regime in Argentina in the early 1980s as if he had been witness. Richard Garay is an Argentinean, bored by his job as an English tutor and frustrated by his hidden homosexuality. His fluency with language attracts the attention of Claudio Canetto, who hires him as a liaison to foreign investors in his campaign for president of Argentina. Though the campaing is unsuccessful, it draws Garay into an uneasy alliance with a pair of powerful Americans who hope to influence the next election. Tóibín flirts with the exploration of a tainted political process, but the heart of the book details the secret relationship between Garay and Canetto's son Pablo; as the country recovers from the Falklands War and the oppression of military leadership, their pairing grows from lust to love as the new threat of AIDS looms. Tóibín's simple but eloquent telling of this personal story is sometimes explicit, often moving, and always vivid in its portrayal of Argentina and its people. Highly recommended.‘Marc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., Indiana, Pa.
A brave and remarkable novel, the impact of which no reader will
shed. -- Dermot Bolger * Sunday Independent *
The Story of the Night is, in the end, a love story of the most serious and difficult kind. Toibin has told it with profound artistry and truth. -- Tobias Wolff
Nobody before Toibin has made such honesty stand so clearly for political and personal integrity . . . In each of his first three novels he has invented a strong central character but Garay is by far his most memorable. -- Edmund White * Sunday Times *
A remarkable achievement . . . The ease, the fluidity, the economy, the precision of Toibin's masterly prose make this novel sheer pleasure to read. -- Norman Thomas di Giovanni * The Times *