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The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater Lightship

Illustrated by: Stephanie Roth
It is Ireland in the early 1990s. Helen, her mother, Lily, and her grandmother, Dora have come together to tend to Helen's brother, Declan, who is dying of AIDS. With Declan's two friends, the six of them are forced to plumb the shoals of their own histories and to come to terms with each other.
Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, The Blackwater Lightship is a deeply resonant story about three generations of an estranged family reuniting to mourn an untimely death. In spare, luminous prose, Colm Tóibín explores the nature of love and the complex emotions inside a family at war with itself. Hailed as "a genuine work of art" (Chicago Tribune), this is a novel about the capacity of stories to heal the deepest wounds.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743203319 | 
  • June 2001
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Helen woke in the night to the sound of Manus whimpering. She lay still and listened, hoping that he would quieten and turn on his side and sleep, but when his voice became louder and more insistent and she could vaguely make out words, she got out of bed and moved towards the boys' room; she was unsure whether he was dreaming or awake.

She had left the landing light switched on and she was able to see, as soon as she came into the room, that Cathal had his eyes wide open. He looked at her from the bed, an uninvolved spectator in the scene about to be enacted; he then looked over at his brother, who was crying out... see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Pronoy Sarkar

I read Colm Toibin’s The Blackwater Lightship by the window of my Brooklyn apartment during a calm and lukewarm afternoon. Winter hadn’t yet arrived and the leaves outside bobbed gently in a light breeze. This quiet novel was the perfect...

About the Author

Colm Toibin
© Phoebe Ling

Colm Toibin

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

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