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The Story of the Night

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  1,575 Ratings  ·  137 Reviews
In the past decade Colm Tóibín has garnered international fame for his fiction, reporting, and travel writing. Now, in his new novel, The Story of Night, he breaks new emotional ground with the story of a gay man coming of age in Argentina during the Falklands War. Tóibín weds his two themes--the ongoing Argentinean struggle toward democracy and the personal journey of a m ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published 1997 by Picador (first published 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Barry Pierce
Not in a million years would I have put this novel in Colm Tóibín's bibliography. It isn't set in Ireland, there isn't a woman running way from something, and it's received little-to-no awards. However, and I may be premature in this decision, I think this might be Tóibín's masterpiece.

Split into three parts, we follow Richard's journey from Argentina during the Falklands War, through the entire decade, up to the AIDS crisis of New York in the late 80s. It goes from Giovanni's Room to Angels in
Jennifer (aka EM)
This was really three books in one:

1) Richard Garay lives with and cares for his domineering mother until her death, and then attempts to make his own way as a gay man in macho, politically volatile Argentina in the mid-80s.
2) Richard gets involved with a family, the patriarch of which seeks to become President of Argentina, and takes a job as a translator thanks largely to the influence of two American CIA agents who are working behind the scenes to "democratize" Argentina in the post-Falklands
Sep 17, 2016 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 and 1/2 stars

Engrossing, compelling story (with some interesting set-pieces) that, more than once, seems to be going one way and then takes you another. I don't think, as a whole, it's as good as Toibin's later works; but it's just as readable.

I enjoy reading all the works of favorite writers and seeing their development. I found this one better than his earlier The South, and it's also interesting to see how this one probably led to his next one, The Blackwater Lightship, which I loved.
Aug 26, 2015 Nick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Colm Toibin is much-loved and I must say that I admire the breadth of vision, Ireland to Brooklyn to Argentina to Scientology to an alternate to the Gospels. "The Story of the Night" reads, to me, like a sequence of four themes featuring the same narrator, a gay Argentine of the seventies and eighties. The first segment is a youth reminiscent of Borges, not in writing but in the household reverence for English despite living in Latin America; the narrator's mother was British. Family business di ...more
Feb 14, 2008 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colm Toibin is one of my favorite Irish authors writing today. Among his books that I've read to date ("The South", "The Heather Blazing", "The Blackwater Lightship", "Mothers and Sons" and this one - I haven't read "The Master" yet), "The Story of the Night" is my favorite.

Set in Buenos Aires during the Falklands war and its aftermath, the novel tracks the development of Richard Garay, a gay schoolteacher, the son of an Argentine father and English mother. At the novel's opening, the generals a
rating: 5.5/5

My initial reaction: "Brilliant, emotional, and will leave you, well, utterly speechless. Just... WOW!"

As Argentina is going through political upheaval, so is Richard. Strangled by his job and lack of love life, he takes risks and grows just like this new Argentina does. He finds himself in a new career and in a new love.

The melancholy, trance-like prose beautifully illustrates how Richard drifts through life being a part of it yet apart at the same time. He is lonely and detached
Jan 13, 2010 Grady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Timelessly Important Yet Also A Timely Novel

2005 and Argentina has just revoked amnesty for those responsible for the brutality and occult treachery of the Dirty War that ended with the overthrow of the military junta with the British defeat of Argentina's forces over the Falkland Islands. And it is during this closure of a long suppressed circle that Colm Toibin's superb 1995 book THE STORY OF THE NIGHT comes back into circulation. By all means read this book now not only to celebrate Toibin'
Mar 23, 2010 A rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
WTF?!?!?!?! I thought this would be like gay Joan Didion, twisting together a sordid coming out tale and the shadowy political intrigue of Argentina's desaparecidos-era dictatorship. Granted, it IS that for the first 20pp., but unless you're Henry Kissinger you wont understand a thing that's going on because it's totally oblique and confusing. (Only good thing about this novel is it was so iffy on the political part it forced me to go down a Google hole learning about Operation Condor; what a sh ...more
Toibin's third novel was his first openly 'gay' novel and I wonder how much he felt compelled to tackle the subject of AIDS. It was published in 1996 so maybe there was a sense of obligation on his part. Reading it in 2006, I couldn't help sighing a little with a sense of deja vu when the topic reared its head at the end of the book - which is, admittedly, an unfair reaction.

The novel blends confession, love story and the sort of ambassadorial intrigue that Graham Greene went in for. In fact, I
Sep 27, 2015 Irene rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'll probably come back to this review later and go into a bit more depth, but so far here are my thoughts on it:

- Bland writing style - too plain and just uninteresting.
- Too many plot lines that try to interconnect but don't: politics in Argentina, gay relationships, family stuff. Characters travel from Buenos Aires to the US (including NYC) as if those places were next to each other.
- Main character develops unnaturally, starting out as a really shy, highly reserved boy to end up becoming a
Jan 12, 2016 Darin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I will read (and I *will* read) anything written by Colm Toibin. The writing is unpretentious and largely unadorned, but beautiful nonetheless.
Sep 03, 2015 Micah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Styleless writing and lack of emotional engagement finally became too much to bear. It was like reading about a damp cardboard box given human form.
Michael Flick
This doesn’t quite work for me, doesn’t seem to know where it’s going and when it gets there finds that it packed the wrong bags.

“[O]ne side of me, the English side maybe, was a way of hiding from the other side, which was Argentinian, so that I never had to be a single fully formed person, I could always switch and improvise.” [189] The narrator, Richard Garay, puts his finger on his problem and the problem with this novel: neither can quite assemble into being fully formed and coherent.

The nar
Aug 18, 2015 Andreas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Das Buch hat alles, was Colm Tóibín zu einem meiner Lieblingsautoren macht. Er ist der Meister des Schwebenden, Unausgesprochenen, der Momentaufnahmen und Zwischentöne, der schwer fassbaren Stimmungen, die er, ohne sie benennen zu müssen, ganz deutlich spürbar macht. Diese Zweideutigkeit gilt auch für die Figuren: Tóibín erzählt ruhig und in einfacher, lakonischer Sprache von normalen Menschen mit ihren Schwächen und Unsicherheiten. Tóibíns Charaktere sind nicht unbedingt sympathisch, herausrage ...more
Carolyn Mck
As a fan of Toibin's work, I was pleased to find this early work on a friend's bookshelves. The narrative follows the mid-life of Richard Garay in Argentina, before and after the Falklands war. Richard teaches English but rejects his English mother's commitment to Thatcherism. Initially uninterested in politics and deliberately unaware of the crimes being committed by the generals on their own people, he becomes involved in reform politics through the family of a pupil (Jorges) and their travels ...more
Bishan Samaddar
I may not have Mr Naipaul's astonishing ability to judge the gender of writer from the first two paragraphs of a book (nor do I aspire toward such an ability) but I believe I possess a certain capacity to judge the merit of a book after reading a couple of pages.

The Story of the Night struck me immediately as a difficult book—not because it is difficult to grasp but because it's tedious to go through. It is not the tedium of self-conscious style. It is the tedium of the self-conscious lack of s

K.M. Soehnlein
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 07, 2013 Joanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although you may not guess it throughout the first third, this book is at heart a deeply moving love story. In parallel movement to a political scene that is coming alive as youth become aware and take an interest - in part because the economic crisis is forcing them to - the death of the main character's mother forces him out into the world and on the beginning of a journey to find himself. He becomes more involved and interested in politics as he becomes more self assured and as society begins ...more
This was the first book by Colm Toibin that I read. I did not realize he was an Irish author since the story was so convincingly set in Argentina. In fact it was his sixth book and I was as sorry that I had not discovered him sooner as I was glad to have finally found this very good writer who would go on to win the Booker Prize. The Story of the Night, presents a narrator, Richard Garay, who lives in silence about his homosexuality and in denial about the actions of his country, Argentina, with ...more
Gili Austin
Aug 11, 2010 Gili Austin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Riviting reading the like of which I have not come across in a long time. Toibin's style in this novel is so racy, it places you in a trance, links you profoundly to Richard Garay's character and emotions and finally crushes you into sudden oblivion, as Richard is wiped out by the wicked senselessness of the plague, HIV Aids. However, the nobility of this character is such, that not only does he emerge from the closeted and suffocating personal existence of the lone homesexual but he also abando ...more
David Silva
Aug 27, 2013 David Silva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first time I have read a Tóibín novel and I am very glad that I did. Is this book political? Yes. Historical? Absolutely. Romantic? Extremely. To be frank, I had not been this impressed with a piece of Contemporary Fiction since I read Díaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The Story of the Night well paced, beautifully written, and had me staying up into the wee hours to finish it. Looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of The Master, which is the author's supposedly mo ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Doug rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very slow moving and disjointed novel. The first three-fourths are primarily about a young half-British Argentinian's efforts in working for the privatization of the oil industry back in the mid-80's, which is pretty tedious and dull. Then the last fourth morphs into a pretty standard AIDS novel. Back when it was published (1998) it was considered daring, and it even won an award or two, but time has not been kind to it. A major disappointment from an author whose other works I've admired.
Catherine Siemann
The subject matter of the book is intense and important -- being gay in a repressive society, Argentinian politics and corruption, emotional isolation, AIDS -- and yet it had less impact than I expected. The narrator is oddly emotionally distanced, which makes sense in the context of his childhood (a British mother who holds herself at a distance from the Buenos Aires society she's spent most of her life in; the constant sense of his sexual difference), but even when he falls genuinely in love, ...more
Rachel Wallis
I do love Colm Toibin. He's one of my favourite authors but this early novel is not one of my favourites. It follows a lost gay Argentinian/English teacher who lives with his mother until her death, when he is forced to go out in the world and participate in it. He lucks into a better job, friends and money and eventually love, all of which make a good storyline but I found his style in this book a bit undeveloped. He goes into full detail of some conversations and not others and it just seems q ...more
Sandra Young
Mar 22, 2016 Sandra Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adored this book - beautifully written, so sparse yet little by little all the separate elements grow to form the bigger picture. I would thoroughly recommend.
John Treat
Well, every one of Tóibín's books is worth the effort, but this one requires patience as well. It's several stories each struggling to be a novel: a man and his mother, Argentina and its Dirty War, a Graham Greene tale of Americans abroad and up to no good. Finally, it's a story about AIDS, and that makes the project clear: in a world where everyone is in some kind of hiding, dying finally outs us all. It's early Tóibín, and you can feel him flexing his young literary muscles-- fans will of cour ...more
Jul 28, 2011 Natascia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Beautiful and moving gay story set in Buenos Aires around the time of the Falklands war, its politico-economic aftermath, and the ascent to power of Menem. Tóibín seems to me a very calm, patient and precise writer as he tells the life story of Richard Garay, the building up of different stages in his life and his coming to terms with his sexuality. The subject of AIDS at the beginning of the crisis brings back to the time when it all was so unclear, unknown, terrifying, indefinable. Definitely ...more
Aug 27, 2016 V rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Very nearly a 'did not finish'.

The character isn't the memorable figure promised by the Times review on the back cover blurb. In fact I found him as dull as he found his teaching job. He did nothing particularly unpleasant to offend, inspired no feeling except impatience, really. I felt him stagnant, even after the changes to his job and his love life. Those two things? They're about the most momentous things that happen to him in the entire book save for a big spoiler I won't mention at the en
Apr 04, 2015 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just another coming-of-age story of a gay man in Buenos Aires, on the eve of the war with Britain over the Maldives/Falklands, and the onset of AIDS.

Toibin's novel was both painful and wonderful to read. The style is stark and spare, and speaks to the directness and honesty of the main character, Richard, whose voice narrates the story. Coming out part isn't such a big deal for Richard. The first people he tells are his mother, and the young friend he's attracted to; they both shrug it off . A
Brandon Meredith
Not a wonderful book. It was rambling and aimless. One part of the book did not feed into another. He touches on major political events but doesn't draw many conclusions about them. Even though it is set in (to me) exotic Buenos Aires, it gave me little perspective on the place. I have little more desire to go there and little more understanding of the location. And the mommy issues were a huge bore.

That being said, if I consider this novel as a "slice of life" narrative without any goal but to
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Colm Toibin was born in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford in 1955. He studied at University College Dublin and lived in Barcelona between 1975 and 1978. Out of his experience in Barcelona be produced two books, the novel ‘The South’ (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and winner of the Irish Times/ Aer Lingus First Fiction Award) and ‘Homage to Barcelona’, both published in 1990. When he retur ...more
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