Jessica A. Sequeira
For a few decades in the middle of the last century, American fiction featured a strong Jewish voice, world-weary yet wisecracking, in which unconcern—even disgust—toward the world coexisted with fascination with its linguistic and philosophical possibilities. With his existential emphasis, the Jew became the everyman; though the Jewish immigrant now rarely appears as a novelistic protagonist, a great nostalgia for his brand of schmerz persists.
An Irish writer best known for his novels “The Blackwater Lightship,” “The Master,” and “Brooklyn,” Tóibín knows how to turn a lovely sentence, full of cadence and lyricism. In this collection, Ireland makes up the backdrop: many of his characters are returning to Ireland after a long absence, or are still—though expatriates—carrying the land within them.