Colm Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in the southeast of Ireland in 1955. He was the second youngest of five children. His grandfather, Patrick Tobin, was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, as was his grand-uncle Michael Tobin. Patrick Tobin took part in the 1916 Rebellion in Enniscorthy and was subsequently interned in Frongoch in Wales. Colm Toibin's father was a teacher who was involved in the Fianna Fáil party in Enniscorthy.
Toibin has travelled and lived extensively outside Ireland. Brooklyn is his sixth novel, with the previous two (The Blackwater Lightship and The Master) having both been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The critics have been full of praise for this novel, and there is a considerable chance it will feature on prize lists later in the year.