Great fictional biography brings new life to its subjects

My January 11, 2022 book culture column for the San Francisco Chronicle:

I downloaded Colm Tóibín’s latest book, “The Magician,” with great excitement. As readers of this column know, I have a weakness for Irish novelists, and Tóibín (“Brooklyn,” “Nora Webster,” “The Blackwater Lightship”) is a master at depicting human relationships, especially inner lives and repressed or thwarted desires. ¶ I was already caught up in the story when I realized this novel was about Nobel Prize-winning German novelist Thomas Mann, author of “Buddenbrooks,” “Death in Venice,” “The Magic Mountain” and “Doctor Faustus.” I was immediately intimidated.

Colm Toibin, The Magician

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