The Empty Family

The Empty Family

by Colm Toibin
3.1 24

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Overview

The Empty Family by Colm Toibin

Colm Tóibín’s exquisitely written new stories, set in present-day Ireland, 1970s Spain and nineteenthcentury England, are about people linked by love, loneliness and desire. Tóibín is a master at portraying mute emotion, intense intimacies that remain unacknowledged or unspoken. In this stunning collection, he cements his status as “his generation’s most gifted writer of love’s complicated, contradictory power” (Los Angeles Times).

“Silence” is a brilliant historical set piece about Lady Gregory, widowed and abandoned by her lover, who tells the writer Henry James a confessional story at a dinner party. In “Two Women,” an eminent Irish set designer, aloof and prickly, takes a job in her homeland, and is forced to confront devastating emotions she has long repressed. “The New Spain” is the story of an intransigent woman who returns home after a decade in exile and shatters the fragile peace her family has forged in the post-Franco world. And in the breathtaking long story “The Street,” Tóibín imagines a startling relationship between two Pakistani workers in Barcelona—a taboo affair in a community ruled by obedience and silence.

Tóibín’s characters are often difficult and combative, compelled to disguise their vulnerability and longings. Yet he unmasks them, and in doing so offers us a set of extraordinarily moving stories that remind us of the fragility and individuality of human life. As The New York Review of Books has said, Tóibín “understands the tenuousness of love and comfort—and, after everything, its necessity.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439138328
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 01/04/2011
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.75(w) x 8.75(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary, and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

Hometown:

Dublin, Ireland

Date of Birth:

May 30, 1955

Place of Birth:

Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland

Education:

St. Peter's College, Wexford; University College, Dublin, B.A. in English and history

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The Empty Family 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
rossberliner More than 1 year ago
Colm Toibin writes very well He opens up his private self to infuse and color his stories. Unusual and specialized but fascinating and very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walked in "Hi " she said
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sits in his room
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Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
THE EMPTY ROOM is a priceless collection of short stories from the brilliant author Colm Tóibín. It could be easily said that once hooked on Tóibín's writing the bond is permanent. This exquisite collection is a series of indecisive moments in the lives of folk who are well into middle life, shackled between remembered emotion and the inevitable aging tranquility that is their future. He creates a panorama of characters about whom we come to know and with whom we empathize, but at the same time these created people are laid out on the near-necropsy postmortem table for us to touch and examine and step away. The nine stories included in this volume include 'Silence', a story transplanted to another time in which a Lady Gregory, an abandoned widow who has lost her recent lover, has a peppery dinner conversation with Henry James. In 'The New Spain', 'exiles return to bury loved ones, and ruminate on what other past associates might be up to. A Leftist dissident from Franco's Spain comes back home to a cool reception at the family villa in Menorca.' 'The Pearl Fishers' is a "grim, almost plotless thriller with gay subplots" and "overwrought and graphically violent screenplays." Our hero is invited to have dinner with a married couple, a man named Donnacha and a woman named Grainne, both of whom he has known since they were at school together decades earlier. The two boys (as they were then) were lovers before Donnacha linked up with the fiery, strong-willed Grainne, a religious reformer who has gained some notoriety by insisting "that she and other like-minded lay people represented the true Catholic Church more than the bishops and priests." Much of what we read in The Empty Family is Tóibín's apparent obsessive interest in 'the principal torments available to the educated, Left-leaning, upwardly mobile, male baby boomer in middle age. The men and women who brought us up, and bustled us off to the good schools they never got to attend, will weaken and die, and our professional success won't help them or us deal with that.' For this reader the most compelling story is the very genteel love story represented in 'The Street' - a tale of Pakistani immigrants in Barcelona who somehow survive the threat of being outsiders and in the case of Malik and Abdul discover their same sex needs and find some fulfillment despite the narrow confines of living in a hostile world. Colm Tóibín is a Master Craftsman, a wordsmith without peer, and everything he touches radiates a magic that only he is capable of transforming ordinary lives into extraordinary experiences for the reader. This, then, is literary genius. Grady Harp
tosh-akin_54 More than 1 year ago
This book put me to sleep. First couple of chapters hard to follow,if a book doesn't grab you in first few chapters,its a done deal. I even tried to give this book another chance. I put it down and started reading again and just could not get thru it. Hated I paid $11.00 for this book,can I have my money back. Not a page turner.