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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Notable Book

From one of today’s most brilliant and beloved novelists, a dazzling, epic family saga set across a half-century spanning World War I, the rise of Hitler, World War II, and the Cold War.

Colm Tóibín’s magnificent new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.

In a stunning marriage of research and imagination, Tóibín explores the heart and mind of a writer whose gift is unparalleled and whose life is driven by a need to belong and the anguish of illicit desire. The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived - the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile. This is a man and a family fiercely engaged by the world, profoundly flawed, and unforgettable. As People magazine said about The Master, “It’s a delicate, mysterious process, this act of creation, fraught with psychological tension, and Tóibín captures it beautifully.”

©2021 Colm Toibin (P)2021 Simon & Schuster Audio

What listeners say about The Magician

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Terrific listening experience

I found the novel gripping, poignant and powerful. Mann and his family, his writing, his sexuality and their experiences as emigres during ww2 all made compelling reading. The reader, Gunnar Cauthery, really enhanced my listening experience with his beautiful diction and ability to convey character and feeling. I wolfed down all 500 pages in a few days and at the end wished for more.

11 people found this helpful

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Family and History

This novel about Thomas Mann and his family does a subtle thing. As you read about the ambitions and tensions within the large Mann family, you absorb a great deal of history. The story takes place against the backdrop of European political movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, then moves to America in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The impact of history on the characters’ lives is profound. The characters – Thomas, his patient wife, his mercurial and sometimes suicidal children – are all well drawn. Toibin is a brilliant writer, and I have enjoyed many of his books. This is one of the best. The narration is excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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Seriously fascinating

If you love literature, music and history, this is for you. Mann lead a fascinating life and Toibin does him justice.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Great historical fictional novel. I was engrossed in the story of the life of Thomas Mann and the narration was the best. I liked the historical facts and through the story and narration, the characters were given life.

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Biographical Fiction a Tad Too Exhaustive

I’ve long admired Colm Toibin’s fiction, in particular his novel about Henry James, THE MASTER. In that book he focused on a poignant period of James’ life late in his career. In this novel, for some reason, he felt obliged to track Thomas Mann’s life from birth to age eighty, just before his death. The result comes off less a well-shaped novel with penetrating examination of personality than a dutiful account reliant on the timeline of history. I had the sensation for the first few hours that the novel had yet to really start, then I realized that this is what it was.