IRISH NOVELIST Colm Tóibín has been awarded the Rathbones Folio Prize 2022 for his novel The Magician, receiving a £30,000 prize.
Known as the 'writer's prize', it is the only major literary award for which all the books in contention are selected and judged by an academy of peers, and is the only prize to consider all works of literature, regardless of form.
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.
Tóibín was four chapters into writing the book when he was diagnosed with cancer which required six months of heavy-duty chemotherapy.
"I knew that if the cancer came back, the chances of writing the books were zero," he told the Rathbones Folio Prize in an interview.
"Once I could really start working again, I worked really hard and really fast. Then I could worry about the health stuff. Anyway, I finished it."
Judges Tessa Hadley, William Atkins and Rachel Long chose The Magician from an incredibly strong and diverse shortlist, which featured novels, poetry and non-fiction from internationally renowned talent from across the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including Booker Prize-winner The Promise by Damon Galgut.
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."
Tóibín has been shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, won the Costa Novel Award (for Brooklyn), the Impac Award and the David Cohen Prize for Literature in 2021. In 2011 he was awarded the Irish PEN Award for contribution to Irish Literature. This is his first Rathbones Folio Prize, following his previous shortlisting in 2015. He is the author of ten novels including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary, Nora Webster, and, House of Names and has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction.
Earlier this year, he was named as the new laureate for Irish fiction, taking over from Sebastian Barry. He is also Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, UK, and Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, New York. Born in Enniscorthy, he currently lives between Dublin and Los Angeles.