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The Empty Family

On the heels of his bestselling and award-winning novel Brooklyn, Colm Toibin returns with a stunning collection of stories--now available in paperback--"a book that's both a perfect introduction to Toibin and, for longtime fans, a bracing pleasure" ( The Seattle Times ). Critics praised Brooklyn as a "beautifully rendered portrait of Brooklyn and provincial Ireland in the 1950s." In The Empty Family, Toibin has extended his imagination further, offering an incredible range of periods and characters--people linked by love, loneliness, desire--"the unvarying dilemmas of the human heart" ( The Observer, UK). In the breathtaking long story "The Street," Toibin imagines a relationship between Pakistani workers in Barcelona--a taboo affair in a community ruled by obedience and silence. In "Two Women," an eminent and taciturn Irish set designer takes a job in her homeland and must confront emotions she has long repressed. "Silence" is a brilliant historical set piece about Lady Gregory, who tells the writer Henry James a confessional story at a dinner party. Reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, The Empty Family will further cement Toibin's status as "his generation's most gifted writer of love's complicated, contradictory power" ( Los Angeles Times ).
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Though better known on these shores as a novelist, Toibin (Brooklyn) here proves his mastery of the too-often-dismissed short story form. Each narrative is an all-encompassing world that will stop readers on their axis and cause them to reconsider the suddenness, ecstasy, and isolation of human connection in settings as divergent as 19th-century England and post-9/11 Spain. (LJ 11/15/10) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Toibin returns to his native shores from Brooklyn for the bulk of these nine pristine stories, all-save one-contemporary tales of lives haunted by loss, whether it's the legacy of a sexually abusive priest in an already complicated love triangle in "The Pearl Fishers," the long-absent gay son who returns to Dublin from New York to attend to his mother's last moments in "One Minus One," or the aching void that greets an academic's return to a family home on the Irish coast in the wistful title story. Affairs, airports, and deathbeds populate a mature prose that's as tender with descriptions of sexual, often gay, love as it is with the heart's more inexpressible reaches, never more so than in the complex "The Street," where two Pakistanis find love in the repressive backdrop of blue-collar Barcelona only to be met with violence and a curious captivity. These stories go a long way toward establishing Toibin as heir to William Trevor, with reverberations that show how life encompasses more than the living. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"This is some of Toibin's most beautiful and heart-stopping writing. The story 'The Street' is one of the great love stories of our time, gay or straight."--Edmund White, author of "City Boy" "The work of a supreme writer who only improves."--"The Times" (U.K.) "A collection that will only further fuel Toibin's ascent through English fiction."--"The Independent" (UK) "["The Empty Family"] reconfirms his mastery of the short story.... Toibin raised his profile with the exquisitely bittersweet "Brooklyn", and this collection is every bit as rich... Likely to rank with the best story collections of the year."--"Kirkus" (starred review)

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