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  • Writers in The Loft Presents: COLM TÓIBÍN

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    March 19, 2018

    WRITERS IN THE LOFT presents
    bestselling, award-winning author of Brooklyn and Nora Webster

    with his latest work

    WASHINGTON POST Notable Fiction Book of the Year
    Named “Best Book of 2017” by NPR, THE BOSTON GLOBE

    Thursday, March 22,

    “Part of Tóibín’s success comes down to the power of his writing: an almost unfaultable combination of artful restraint and wonderfully observed detail.”—Mary Beard, The New York Times Book Review

    “HOUSE OF NAMES works because of the empathy and depth Tóibín brings to these suffering, tragically fallible characters, all destined to pass on ‘into the abiding shadows’ — yet vividly alive in this gripping novel.”
    —Heller McAlpin, NPR

    “This isn’t just a captivating retelling; it’s a creative reanimation of these indelible characters who are still breathing down our necks across the millennia.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

    Ticket package includes the book, bar beverage, author presentation, Q+A and author meet-and-greet/signing

    What: The Music Hall’s Writers in the Loft presents bestselling, award-winning author of Brooklyn (an Oscar-nominated film) and Nora Webster Colm Tóibín on Thursday, March 22. He’ll discuss his latest novel, HOUSE OF NAMES, a retelling of the Greek myth featuring Clytemnestra, ruler of Mycenae, who murdered her husband Agamemnon upon his return home from the Trojan War. In his signature, empathetic style, Colm Tóibín once again brilliantly inhabits the mind of a woman — this time, one of Greek mythology’s most powerful villains — and gives this extraordinary character new life. The result: we not only believe Clytemnestra’s thirst for revenge, but applaud it. The hour-long event will include an author presentation and Q&A moderated by Patricia Lynch, Executive Director at The Music Hall.

    When/Where:         Thursday, March 22  - 7pm
                                      The Music Hall Loft
                         131 Congress Street
                              Portsmouth, NH 03801

    Tickets: The ticket package for Writers in the Loft: Colm Tóibín on Thursday, March 22, at 7pm, is $30 ($28 members). In addition to a reserved seat, the package includes a copy of HOUSE OF NAMES  ($16 paperback), a bar beverage, author presentation, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet.  Packages can be purchased online at TheMusicHall.org, over the phone at 603.436.2400 or in person at the B2W Box Office at the Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut Street.

    About the Author: Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Master, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Book Award; The Testament of Mary, and Nora Webster, as well as two story collections. Three times shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York.

    For further information, or to request an author interview, please contact: Monte Bohanan, Director of Marketing, at mbohanan@themusichall.org, or Patricia Lynch, Executive Producer, at plynch@themusichall.org

    For images, please see:

    About Writers in the Loft
    Akin to The Music Hall’s anchor literary series, Writers on a New England Stage, Writers in the Loft features bestselling authors in a smaller, more intimate space. The series brings audiences today’s top authors, the best of fiction and nonfiction, and award-winners across categories. The evening package includes a reserved seat and bar beverage, author presentation and Q+A, a copy of the book, and a meet-and-greet book signing with the featured writer.

    Series Sponsor:  RMC Research Corporation
    Season Sponsors:  Carey & Giampa Realtors;  Portwalk Place; The River House restaurant
    Contributing Partner:  The University of New Hampshire


    "Brilliant...Tóibín's accomplishment here is to render myth plausible while at the same time preserving its high drama... gripping... The selfish side of human nature is... made tangible and graphic in Tóibín's lush prose." – Booklist, STARRED review

    "Clytemnestra, narrating in the first person, is a captivating and terrifying figure, heartbroken and ruthless in her lust for power... Tóibín captures the way that corruption breeds resentment and how resentment almost unstoppably breeds violence. The original myths established these characters as the gods' playthings, but Tóibín reframes this version in a 'time when the gods are fading,' the better  to lay the blame for our human failures plainly on ourselves."
    – Kirkus Reviews

    “A taut retelling of a foundational Western story…this extraordinary book reads like a pristine translation rather than a retelling, conveying both confounded strangeness and timeless truths about love’s sometimes terrible and always exhilarating energies.” – Library Journal, Starred Review

    "A dramatic, intimate chronicle of a family implosion set in unsettling times as gods withdraw from human affairs. Far from the Brooklyn or Ireland of his recent bestsellers, Tóibín explores universal themes of failure, loss, loneliness, and repression.”– Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

    "Written with the ‘knowledge that the time of the gods has passed,’ Colm Toibin’s take on the classic myth of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in HOUSE OF NAMES evokes a husband’s vanity and a wife’s rage, casting the fragility of our closest bonds in fresh light.” – Vogue

    “Although a reader may know what’s coming, the novel’s imaginative take on the twisted psychology behind the horrific acts is what keeps it compelling… The final chapters are among the most mysterious and beautiful Tóibín has written; a high bar.” – Claude Peck, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

    “Mr. Tóibín is exemplary of modern methods, a careful, Jamesian portraitist of exquisite finesse and understatement… as finely written as any of his books." – Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

    “Simply and inexorably, Tóibín spins the deadly tale we remember so well from our school days…It is Tóibín’s unembellished prose that grips us, pulling us anew into an old story, one whose ending we know yet cannot put down.  We are also struck by the emotional distance he gives his characters, one from the other, except in rare instances – a family dynamic bred of damage… riveting and relevant and a fine addition to the growing canon of works by Colm Tóibín.” – Karen Brady, The Buffalo News

    “A modernized masterpiece…an excellent read that will appeal to all audiences and make real the Greek tragedy readers only thought they understood.”– The Deseret News

    “Exquisite…[Toibin] makes modern psychological drama out of the Greek mythological cycles of violence that destroyed Clytemnestra and her family, wrestling human motives out of stories that might otherwise feel alien to our culture.”– Boris Kachka, New York Magazine

    “[A] psychologically probing and intimate retelling of the Greek tragedy…Tóibín’s prose is stark and mesmerizingly readable. It reveals the horrors but doesn’t sensationalize them — which makes them even more horrific, as he meticulously reproduces the inexorable and inevitabilities of Greek tragedy. The calm ruthlessness of the tale adds to its terrors…[a] magnificent novel.”– Sam Coale, The Providence Journal

    "A devastatingly human story...savage, sordid and hauntingly believable." – Kate Clanchy, The Guardian

    "A giant amongst storytellers, Tóibín has thrown down the gauntlet with his latest novel . . . And it is a masterpiece." – Edith Hall, Daily Telegraph

    "A Greek House of Cards... Just like Heaney at the end of his Mycenae lookout, Tóibín’s novel augurs an era of renewal that comes directly from the cessation of hostilities." – Fiona Macintosh, Irish Times

    "Tóibín's retelling is governed by compassion and responsibility, and focuses on the horrors that led Clytemnestra to her terrible vengeance. Her sympathetic first-person narrative makes even murder, for a moment, seem reasonable ... Tóibín's prose is precise and unadorned, the novel's moments of violence told with brutal simplicity. But its greatest achievement is as a page-turner. In a tale that has ended the same way for thousands of years, Tóibín makes us hope for a different outcome."– James Reith, The Economist

    "In a novel describing one of the Western world's oldest legends, in which the gods are conspicuous by their absence, Tóibín achieves a paradoxical richness of characterisation and a humanisation of the mythological, marking HOUSE OF NAMES as the superbly realised work of an author at the top of his game." – Daily Express

    "Colm Tóibín turns Greek Myths into flesh and blood..The writing is characteristically elegant, spare and subtle. ..The scenes between Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus darkly sexy." – The Times [which Times - London Times, NY Times, other?]

    "A haunting story, largely because Tóibín tells it in spare, resonant prose..." – Lucy Hughes-Hallett, The New Statesman

    "Mesmerizing... [HOUSE OF NAMES] balances the restraint of neoclassical art with the frenzy of a Pollock painting." – O, The Oprah Magazine

    "A psychological and political thriller following the sacrifice of Iphigenia...told with remarkable literary restraint…Tóibín has poured old wine into an exquisite new bottle, using invisible artistry to make it seem as if there is nothing to it."– The Christian Science Monitor

    "A well-wrought urn [um?] of a novel, with Tóibín commanding form, tone and structure on every page."– Anthony Domestico, San Francisco Chronicle

    "A brilliant and challenging reinvention of the Greek myths of the bloody House of Atreus, or as Tóibín terms it, the HOUSE OF NAMES... Euripides would approve." – David Wright, The Seattle Times

    “The misadventures of Agamemnon and his family were repeatedly retold in Greek mythology…In his new novel, HOUSE OF NAMES, Colm Tóibín explores part of this story, from the murder of Iphigenia to the murder of Clytemnestra, making it strike a new chord, far more impressive than the pious respect or worthy aura of ‘classicism’ that often surrounds it. Part of Tóibín’s success comes down to the power of his writing: an almost unfaultable combination of artful restraint and wonderfully observed detail….[this] transforms his account of the sacrifice of Iphigenia from what could all too easily have been a ghastly version of operatic bombast into a moving tragedy on a human scale…he is also very good on exploiting the puzzling gaps in the ancient narrative, especially where Orestes is concerned…But Tóibín has bigger themes in mind, too, particularly the cycle of violence that seems to trap the family of Agamemnon.”– Mary Beard, The New York Times Book Review

    “Exquisite…[Tóibín] makes modern psychological drama out of the Greek mythological cycles of violence that destroyed Clytemnestra and her family, wresting human motives out of stories that might otherwise feel alien to our culture.”—Vulture

    "Vengeance, betrayal and elemental passion never go out of style." – Kathleen Rooney, The Chicago Tribune

    “[An] extraordinary new novel… Drawing upon Greek tragedy as deftly as he borrowed the story of the Virgin mother in his 2013 Booker Prize finalist novel, The Testament of Mary The Testament of Mary, Tóibín has found the gaps in the myth, reimagining all as a profoundly gripping and human tale… you can see at once the marvelous writer Tóibín is, and how he works best under a set of self-imposed restrictions…” – John Freeman, The Boston Globe

    “HOUSE OF NAMES works because of the empathy and depth Tóibín brings to these suffering, tragically fallible characters, all destined to pass on "into the abiding shadows" — yet vividly alive in this gripping novel.”– Heller McAlpin, NPR.org

    “A creative reanimation of these indelible characters who are still breathing down our necks across the millennia… [Tóibín] pumps blood even into the silent figures of Greek tragedy… Despite the passage of centuries, this is a disturbingly contemporary story of a powerful woman caught between the demands of her ambition and the constraints on her gender…Never before has Tóibín demonstrated such range, not just in tone but in action. He creates the arresting, hushed scenes for which he’s so well known just as effectively as he whips up murders that compete, pint for spilled pint, with those immortal Greek playwrights.”
    – Ron Charles, The Washington Post

    About The Music Hall
    The Music Hall is a performing arts center featuring curated entertainment from around the world in two theaters in its downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire campus - one, a landmark 1878 Victorian theater, designated an American Treasure for the Arts by the National Park Service’s Save America's Treasures Program, the other the intimate Music Hall Loft around the corner, recently named "best performing arts venue" by Yankee Magazine and the recipient of the NH AIA award for design excellence.

    With acclaimed signature series including Writers on a New England Stage – a partnership between The Music Hall and New Hampshire Public Radio – and the Intimately Yours music series, we bring top authors and artists to both stages. Also, HD broadcasts from The Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre of London as well as extraordinary cinema fill both screens almost every night of the year.

    This dynamic arts center urges patrons to Explore + Learn via master classes, post film panel discussions, and matinees for children. An anchor organization in this historic working seaport, The Music Hall is one of downtown Portsmouth’s biggest employers and largest contributors to the regional economy: The Music Hall and its patrons contribute $7.1 million annually to the local economy through show and visitor related spending.

    Innovative in its outlook, the organization is community oriented and committed to making the Seacoast flourish. The Music Hall is a 501(c)3 nonprofit managed by a professional staff with the assistance of a volunteer board. Though global in the scope of its artists and programs, The Music Hall operates independently with the support of 3,000 members, 300 corporate partners and 58 community partner organizations. Welcoming more than 100,000 patrons (including 20,000 children) each year from the tri-state area and beyond, The Music Hall is the region’s center for the performing arts, literature, and education…easy to get to, impossible to forget.

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    Margaret Talcott, Producer