Colm Toibin knows the languages of the outsider, the secret keeper, the gay man or woman. He knows the covert and overt language of homosexuality in literature. In "Love in a Dark Time, " he also describes the solace of finding like-minded companions through reading.
Toibin examines the life and work of some of the greatest and most influential writers of the past two centuries, figures whose homosexuality remained hidden or oblique for much of their lives, either by choice or necessity. The larger world couldn't know about their sexuality, but in their private lives, and in the spirit of their work, the laws of desire defined their expression.
This is an intimate encounter with Mann, Baldwin, Bishop, and with the contemporary poets Thom Gunn and Mark Doty. Through their work, Toibin is able to come to terms with his own inner desires -- his interest in secret erotic energy, his admiration for courageous figures, and his abiding fascination with sadness and tragedy. Toibin looks both at writers forced to disguise their true experience on the page and at readers who find solace and sexual identity by reading between the lines.
John Banville Irish Times Is it permissible even to speak, as so many do nowadays, of a "gay community"? Toibin treats [this] and many other questions with confidence and authority, both of which attributes are only strengthened by the moderation of his tone and the depth of his compassion. He writes with rare tenderness of figures as disparate as Elizabeth Bishop and Francis Bacon, Thomas Mann and Roger Casement, Thom Gunn and Pedro Almodovar.
John Gardner Times Literary Supplement It is Colm Toibin's great strength that he is able to attune himself to nuances, and to the ways in which people "invent" themselves.
Ruth Padel Financial Times Toibin demonstrates wonderfully how a dedicated writer always thinks with other writers: their lives and sexuality, as well as their work. Toibin can be engagingly mischievous and witty, but is deeply serious about books.
Mark Levin Men's Journal Toibin is a superb technician with a brave soul.
Robert Sullivan Vogue Toibin writes with high-voltage restraint; his sentences are masterfully devoid of trickery...He is tuned in to the silent language of families, the messages that are unspoken and slip past the rest of the world, landing deep into the hearts of those who understand.