Colm Tóibín wins 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize for ‘ambitious’ novel The Magician

On Tuesday evening at the British Library in London, Irish author Colm Tóibín was announced as winner of the 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize for his novel The Magician (Viking), a haunting, intimate portrait of the exiled German Nobel winner Thomas Mann.

This is the first time Tóibín wins the £30,000 prize, following his previous shortlisting in 2015 for the novel Nora Webster.

The Magician traces the life of author, essayist, philanthropist and social critic Thomas Mann, one of the most acclaimed – and contradictory – figures in continental European literature. In his epic fictionalised biography of Mann, Tóibín charts the turbulent story of the first half of the 20th century.

Tóibín was shortlisted alongside Natasha Brown (Assembly), Damon Galgut (The Promise), Selima Hill (Men Who Feed Pigeons), Philip Hoare (Albert and the Whale), Claire Keegan (Small Things Like These), Gwendoline Riley (My Phantoms), and Sunjeev Sahota (China Room).

The prize, established in 2013 as the only major prize to consider work from English language authors around the world ⁠— and also the only major literary prize to consider all work regardless of form ⁠— was this year judged by the writers Tessa Hadley, William Atkins and Rachel Long

The judges said: ‘Choosing one winner from the eight titles shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize found us pulled in so many different directions by these extraordinary books, which we lived with and loved and read and read again. We sat around a table for several hours picking out lines and passages, taking in the very different worlds of each book and arguing passionately for every one of them. And then gradually it became clear – and was a surprise to all of us – that we’d each arrived at the same decision. Colm Tóibín’s The Magician is such a capacious, generous, ambitious novel, taking in a great sweep of 20th century history, yet rooted in the intimate detail of one man’s private life.’

The Rathbones Folio Prize was won in 2021 by Carmen Maria Machado, for the memoir In The Dream House (Serpent’s Tail).

For more details on the Rathbones Folio Prize, visit:

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