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From Madame Bovary to Hedda Gabler, some of literature’s most passionate heroines find themselves under the fire of their times. In Tóibín’s The Testament of Mary, the Irish novelist took on nothing less than the mother of Christ. In his masterful new novel, Nora Webster, he portrays a fiercely compelling young Irish widow and mother of four navigating grief and fear and struggling for hope. Rachel Kushner (The Flamethrowers) joins Tóibín for a discussion about creating characters that erupt off the page, in novels where the political and the personal are locked in a deep and fascinating embrace.

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Rachel Kushner

Rachel Kushner is the author of two novels, Telex from Cuba and The Flamethrowers. Both received rave reviews, were shortlisted for the National Book Award, and were New York Times bestsellers.


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Colm Tóibín

Colm Tóibín is the author of seven novels, including The Blackwater Lightship; The Master (winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize); and Brooklyn (winner of the Costa Book Award); as well as two story collections and several books of essays, including Love in a Dark Time: Gay Lives from Wilde to Almodovar. The stage production of his novel, The Testament of Mary, starring Fiona Shaw, ran on Broadway in 2013, earning three Tony nominations. Tóibín lives in Dublin and New York, where he is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia. His newest book is Nora Webster: A Novel.


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