The Magician by Colm Toibin
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 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 in the Great War will force him to rethink his relationship with Germany as Hitler comes to power. He has six children with his clever 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. In The Magician, Colm Tóibín captures the profound personal conflict of a very public life, and through this life creates an intimate portrait of the twentieth century.
Praise for The Magician: ‘This graceful novel is a moving and intimate portrait by one master of another . . . It is a stunning tribute to the great man, and a vital story for now.’ – Anna Funder ‘The Magician is a remarkable achievement. Mann himself, one feels certain, would approve.’ – John Banville ‘As with everything Colm Tóibín sets his masterful hand to, The Magician is a great imaginative achievement – immensely readable, erudite, worldly and knowing, and fully realized.’ – Richard Ford ‘No living novelist dramatizes artistic creation as profoundly, as luminously, as Colm Tóibín, or conveys so well the entanglement of imagination and desire.’ – Garth Greenwell