SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2013
From the author of Brooklyn comes a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history.
In a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change.
As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human.
Beguiling and deeply intelligent...In a single passage - and in a rendition, furthermore, of one of the most famous passages of western literature - Tóibín shows how the telling and the details are all-important.
Tóibín's weary Mary, sceptical and grudging, reads as far more true and real than the saintly perpetual virgin of legend. And Tóibín is a wonderful writer: as ever, his lyrical and moving prose is the real miracle.
This is a flawless work, touching, moving and terrifying.
There is a profound ache throughout this little character study, a steely determination coupled with an unbearable loss. Although it has some insightful things to say about religion and the period - the descriptions of the Crucifixion are visceral - it has a universal message about the nature of loss.
This novel is the Virgin's version of the life of Christ. After a lifetime listening to everyone else's versions of that life, she is angry and frustrated because they are all questionable.
Toibin has created an impressive work of religious imagination...haunting, highly original.
Fearsomely strange, deeply thoughtful
With deceptively modest prose, Tóibín presents the Virgin Mary's story as one of human loss rather than salvation. By doing so he gives us a Mary to identify with rather than venerate.
Daring and very moving
Colm Tóibín on why he left his hometown behind to explore a family drama in the royal households of Ancient Greece in House of Names.
James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room is a mainstay on lists of LGBTQ classics. In this introduction from the new Everyman edition, Colm Tóibín unravels the intimately confessional style that draws this beautiful book into so many readers’ hearts