Colm Toibin wins Rathbones Folio Prize after being diagnosed with cancer while writing

Irish writer Colm Toibin has been announced as the winner of the 2022 Rathbones Folio Prize for his novel The Magician.

oibin, 66, was awarded the £30,000 prize for the first time, having been nominated for the award in 2015.

He had been writing The Magician for four chapters when he was diagnosed with cancer, which was followed by six months of chemotherapy.


Toibin was diagnosed with cancer four months into his winning novel (Rathbones Folio Prize/PA).

He said: “I knew that if the cancer came back, the chances of writing the book were zero.

“When I was able to work properly again, I worked very hard and very fast. Then I could take care of my health. Anyway, I finished it.”

The Magician follows the life of German author, essayist, philanthropist and social critic Thomas Mann, a highly acclaimed figure in continental European literature and a 1929 Nobel Prize winner for literature.

In the fictional biography of Mann, Toibin traces the turbulent history of the first half of the 20th century.

Toibin previously fictionalized the life of writer Henry James in his 2004 novel The Master.

The Rathbones Folio Prize judges – Tessa Hadley, William Atkins and Rachel Long – chose from a shortlist of novels, poetry and non-fiction by authors from the UK, Ireland and South Africa, including Booker Prize-winning The Promise by Damon Galgut.

The jury said: “In selecting a winner from the eight titles shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, these extraordinary books have pulled us in so many different directions that we have lived and loved and read with and always have read again.

“We sat around a table for several hours, picking out lines and passages, absorbing the very different worlds of each book and passionately arguing for each one of them. And then, little by little, it became clear, surprising to all of us, that we had all come to the same decision.

“The Wizard by Colm Toibin is such a vast, generous and ambitious novel that spans the history of the 20th century.

Toibin joined Galgut, Natasha Brown (Assembly), Selima Hill (Men Who Feed Pigeons), Philip Hoare (Albert and the Whale), Claire Keegan (Small Things Like These), Gwendoline Riley (My Phantoms) and Sunjeev Sahota (China- Space).

The prize was awarded to Toibin by the British Library. Colm Toibin wins Rathbones Folio Prize after being diagnosed with cancer while writing

Fry Electronics Team

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