Colm Tóibín: Losing himself in writing

The Writing Life

Novelist Colm Tóibín speaks with fellow novelist Colum McCann in this edition of HoCoPoLitSo's The Writing Life. Recorded in 1999, Tóibín speaks about his early novels, The South (1991), The Heather Blazing (1992), The Story of the Night (1997) and about his nonfiction, The Sign of the Cross: Travels in Catholic Europe (1994). Tóibín explains that one of the best things about writing is being able to lose yourself; he writes in longhand at art colonies like Yaddo to be able to feel the physical presence of his words. He reads from The South, and discusses and reads from The Story of the Night, about a gay man's struggle with his sexuality. He also discusses his travel book about Catholic Europe. In closing, McCann asks Tóibín what writer he would choose to be. For his words, Tóibín says, he would gladly be Henry James, but he would rather enjoy the life of Yeats. For more information or to donate to HoCoPoLitSo's live or recorded programs, visit

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