The Chronicle


Colm Toibin


While Thomas Mann (1875-1955), winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1929, seemed to live the convention­al life of a successful novelist, Katia, the mother of his six children, knew that she was married to a homosexual man. According to Toibin, it was reading Katia’s diaries that provided the impetus to write this fictional biography of the novelist who gave us The Magic Mountain, The Budenbrook­s and numerous short stories. He also wrote Death in Venice, based on a family visit to the city, where Mann was smitten by a young man who becomes the object of desire in the novella. The book takes us from the grandeur of late 19th to early 20th century Europe to the devastatio­ns of two world wars, the Holocaust, the Cold War and German post-war reconstruc­tion. It is a grand sweep that Toibin manages with an ease that belies the disturbing and violent times that Mann and his family lived through. This is a must-read from one of the foremost writers of our time.


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