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Colm Toibin on Mothers and Sons

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Date and time
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Colm Toibin reads from his new collection of short stories, *Mothers and Sons*. Professor James Smith of Boston College introduces the author. **Colm Toibin** was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of five novels, including the Booker shortlisted *The Blackwater Lightship* and *The Master*, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. He has been a Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He lives in Dublin.

Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, in the southeast of Ireland in 1955. His first novel *The South* was finished in 1986 but not published until 1990, being turned down in the meantime by most English publishers. His first book, *Walking Along the Border* with photographs by Tony O'Shea, was published in 1987. In September 1987 he began work on his second novel *The Heather Blazing*. In 1988 he spent a year in Barcelona where he wrote *Homage to Barcelona* and renewed his acquintance with the city and with certain villages in the Pyrenees where *The South* is set and where he has spent a great deal of time since then. In Ireland, during these years he wrote regularly for 'The Sunday Independent', first as drama critic and television critic and later as political commentator. In 1994 he began to write for The London Review of Books and has since then been a regular contributor. His 'Love In a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar' ( Picador, March 2002) is made up mainly of pieces from the London Review of Books. In 2000 he became a Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at New York Public Library, working mainly on the Lady Gregory papers there. This resulted in 'Lady Gregory's Toothbrush', a section of which appeared in The New York Review of Books in August 2001. Colm Toibin has given workshops and masterclasses at Listowel Writers Week, The Arvon Foundation and The American University at Washington DC. He has also taught at the MFA program at the New School in Manhattan. His books have been translated into eighteen languages.
James Smith is currently employed as an Associate Professor of English at Boston College, where he specializes in modern and contemporary Irish literature and culture, and cultural studies. His book,* Ireland's Magdalen Laundries and the Nation's Architecture of Containment *(2007), focusing on cultural representations of institutional care, reflects his interest in twentieth-century Irish narrative from a post-colonial perspective. Similar interests inform Smith's recent graduate seminars, "Twentieth Century Irish Fiction," "Contemporary Irish Fiction," and "Ireland: The Colonial Context." He have taught undergraduate electives on contemporary British Isles fiction, American realism and naturalism, major Irish writers, and both 19th and 20th century Irish literature surveys. Smith am also interested in recent scandals in Ireland's Catholic Church and the manner in which these affect relations between church, state, and society.