New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers And Their Families by Colm Tóibín
Our April non-fiction choice, New Ways To Kill Your Mother, is a collection of erudite essays not only about the parents, cousins and siblings on the page, but also those off it, the real-life characters who shape a writer and their work. Booker-shortlisted author Colm Tóibín explores a range of literature across centuries and asks how do authors fit (or not) into their own families?
There is Borges and his under-achieving father, Thomas Mann's complicated children, Tennessee Williams obsessing over his neurotic sister Rose. There are also missing mothers in Jane Austen's novels (they get in the way of the heroine's journey, so aunts have to step in instead), and a brilliant piece on the conflicted, alcoholic John Cheever, whose work was intertwined with a difficult marriage and secret homosexual affairs.
Each chapter is immediate, rigorously researched, full of telling detail and often very funny. It reads like a personal tutorial from the most inspiring professor you could imagine. Tóibín is a writer whose powerful intellect is at full pelt; his style is clear, crisp and highly engaging. This book is a gift to anyone yearning to stretch their mind, to analyse literary fiction in the company of a remarkable teacher. And it may make your own family seem like The Waltons by comparison.
About the author
Colm Tóibín was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of seven novels, including The Master, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Novel Award and Mumsnet Book of the Month back in 2010. He has also published two volumes of short stories and several works of non-fiction. He is contributing editor at The London Review of Books and has been visiting writer at Stanford, Princeton, The University of Texas and Machester University. He is currently a professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Colombia University.
You can find details of all Colm's books, his beautifully crafted essays and much more on his excellent website.
Q&A with Colm Tóibín
Colm will be answering questions about New Ways To Kill Your Mother, his novels and his writing career in an emailed Q&A. So please come and discuss the book throughout the month and post your questions to Colm by Tuesday 23 April.
This giveaway has now closed.