The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement

The Kenyon Review selected Colm Tóibín as the winner of the 2017 Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.

Colm Tóibín’s acceptance remarks with introduction by David Lynn.

Colm Tóibín is the author of Brooklyn, Homage to Barcelona, The Master, and many other works across a range of genres. Widely recognized as one of the English language’s most gifted prose writers, Tóibín fearlessly delves into human conflicts involving identity, sexuality, and family with deep insight and astonishing dramatic grace. Tóibín accepted the Kenyon Review award in New York City on Nov. 9th.

The Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement is presented at a gala benefit dinner each year in New York City at the Rainbow Room. The prize honors careers of extraordinary literary achievement, recognizing writers whose influence and importance have shaped the American literary landscape. It celebrates writers for the courage of their vision, their unparalleled imagination, and for the beauty of their art.

This is an awards dinner unlike any other—the food and wine are exceptional, as has been the company—counting such luminaries as Roger Rosenblatt, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gloria Vanderbilt, the late George Plimpton, and more among its guests. Past years have seen such corporations as Bloomberg, MacAndrews & Forbes, O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, and other distinguished companies sign on as sponsors.

Proceeds from the benefit dinner support the Kenyon Review. Funds are raised through table sponsorships, ticket sales, donations, and a live auction. The event insures the future legacy of one of America’s oldest and most respected literary journals. Further, the live auction includes the opportunity to support scholarships to KR‘s celebrated summer programs—nurturing the next generations of writers and readers.

About Colm Tóibín

Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel The South (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and Homage to Barcelona, both published in 1990. When he returned to Ireland in 1978 he worked as a journalist for In Dublin, Hibernia, and The Sunday Tribune, becoming features editor of In Dublin in 1981 and editor of Magill, Ireland’s current affairs magazine, in 1982. He left Magill in 1985 and traveled in Africa and South America. His journalism from the 1980s was collected in The Trial of the Generals (1990).

Among his many novels are: The Heather Blazing (1992, winner of the Encore Award); The Story of the Night (1996, winner of the Ferro-Grumley Prize); The Blackwater Lightship (1999, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Prize and the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Angela Lansbury); The Master (2004, winner of the Dublin IMPAC Prize; the Prix du Meilleur Livre; the LA Times Novel of the Year; and shortlisted for the Booker Prize); Brooklyn (2009, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year).

His short story collections are Mothers and Sons (2006, winner of the Edge Hill Prize) and The Empty Family (2010). His other books include: The Modern Library: the 200 Best Novels Since 1950 (with Carmen Callil); Lady Gregory’s Toothbrush (2002); Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar (2002) and All a Novelist Needs: Essays on Henry James (2010). His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ulster, University College Dublin, and the University of East Anglia. He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books. Between 2006 and 2013 he was a member of the Arts Council in Ireland. He has twice been Stein Visiting Writer at Stanford University and also been a visiting writer at the Michener Center at the University of Texas at Austin. He also taught at Princeton between 2009 and 2011, and was Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Manchester in the autumn of 2011. He is currently Mellon Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

In 2012, his novel The Testament of Mary was published and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2013. In April 2013 The Testament of Mary opened on Broadway with Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best New Play. The production transferred to the Barbican in London in May 2014. In July 2014 it opened in Barcelona in a Spanish production, with the actress Blanca Portillo. In 2013 it was released as an audio book with Meryl Streep.

Colm Tóibín’s most recent novels are Nora Webster (2014) and House of Names (2017).

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