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.
“The Magician recaptures a literary giant . . . Toibin’s symphonic and moving novel humanizes [Mann]… Maximalist in scope but intimate in feeling” – The New York Times
Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster. His work has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, has won the Costa Novel Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. He lives in Dublin.
Image: The Magician – courtesy of Pan Macmillan Australia