Sunday, 26 September 2010

Book of the Week and Bibliography - Colm Toibin, The Empty Family

I have been unusually busy with work recently (unfortunately!), so my blog has had to take a back seat.  This unfortunate state of affairs is likely to continue for another couple of weeks, although a couple of long haul flights may allow me some time for reading.  At times when I am very busy, I often turn to short stories rather than a novel, although in my experience volumes of short stories by established authors are often less valued than their full length works. This week's choice is a book of short stories which I have been looking forward to, but probably not one which is particularly attractive from the perspective of a collector. Nonetheless, it offers an opportunity to review prices of previous books from Colm Toibin, a writer working at the peak of his powers. The Empty Family is his second volume of short stories, adding to his six novels, and he has also written or edited a number of works of non-fiction. Toibin has won a considerable number of literary awards, and seems likely to go down as one of the major writers of the early part of the 21st-century. Signed copies of his books are likely to be a solid long-term investment.

Tóibín was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955 and was educated at University College Dublin where he read History and English. After graduating, he lived and taught in Barcelona. He returned to Ireland and worked as a journalist before travelling through South America and Argentina. His first novel, The South (1990), set in Spain and rural Ireland in the 1950s, is the story of an Irish woman who leaves her husband and starts a relationship with a Spanish painter. It was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for First Book. Eamon Redmond, the central character in The Heather Blazing (1992), is a judge in the Irish High Court, haunted by his own past and the history of modern Ireland. The book won the Encore Award for the best second novel of the year. His third novel, The Story of the Night (1996), is set in Argentina during the Falklands War. The Blackwater Lightship (1999), describes the uneasy relationship between a grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter, brought together by a family tragedy. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The Master (2004) was a novel about Henry James, which won the IMPAC prize. Brooklyn (2009) tells the story of an emigrant from rural Ireland to the US in the 1950s, and won the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

Bibliography of Fiction

The South (Serpent's Tail, London, 1990). Paperback in French flaps, £125+.

The Heather Blazing (Picador, London, 1992)- around £100.

The Story of the Night (Picado,. London, 1996) - £15-20.

The Blackwater Lightship (Picador, London, 1999) - £15-20.

The Master (Picador, London, 2004) - £25-30.

Mothers and Sons (Picador, London, 2006) - £15 -20. Also 50 copies signed and numbered bound in quarter goatskin, with raised bands, hand tooled spine in 22 carat gold - leaf, top edge gilt, marbled boards and matching slipcase by Kenny's Fine Bindery, Galway.

Brooklyn (Viking, London, 2009) - £20-25.  Also 25 copies bound in full leather numbered I - XXV, plus 5 copies hors commerce; 75 copies bound in full cloth numbered 1 - 75 plus 5 copies hors commerce, both in mustard yellow slipcase, from Tuskar Rock Press, Dublin.

The Street (Dublin; Tuskar Rock; 2010). A separate edition of a short story from The Empty Family. Limited to 50 copies, numbered in roman numerals from I to L, the edition is signed and dated (30 September 2010) by the author. The book is hand set, 80 pages (untrimmed) long, printed on Somerset mould made and bound in full Harmatan blue leather by the Fine Book Bindery. The book is enclosed in a slipcase covered in navy blue cloth.


darren harrison said...

Hi I am a collector of Toibin's books, and also purchase, when I can afford it, his books of other writers with his own Tuskar Rock Press. t is worth entioning a lovely Tuskar Rock Press volume of one of his early short stories, called 'A Journey' from memory, or something like it. He is also a very personable, approachable man who tells very interesting stories.

Trapnel said...

Many thanks - I wonder if you are referring to "The Long Winter" from 2005? I have never seen a copy, and know little about this book, but will look out for it.