Irish author Colm Tóibín says Brooklyn sequel Long Island touches on 'common experience of Irish in America'

Colm Tóibín said his sequel to Brooklyn touches on the "common experience of the Irish in America". The novelist's recent release Long Island is the follow-up to the prize-winning immigrant tale following the life of Eilis Lacey.

Brooklyn, published in 2009, was adapted six years later into an Oscar-nominated movie with Saoirse Ronan. Long Island continues Eilis' story as she returns to Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, 25 years after leaving Ireland for New York in the 1950s.

The 68-year-old author, who is from Co Wexford and lives in Los Angeles, is in the middle of a US book tour promoting the much-anticipated new novel, which he believes "anyone who is Irish living or working in the US" can relate to.

Colm told IrishStar.com: "There's a common experience among the Irish in America, especially when you're going home. You go home for a week or two weeks and there's that experience of going to the pub and seeing someone you know, or being in your parent's house. All of that belongs to common experience. Everyone who is Irish feels it.

irish author colm tóibín says brooklyn sequel long island touches on 'common experience of irish in america'

Colm Tóibín smiling at the camera

"It's isn't JFK Airport when you get on the plane - it's JFK as you approach the Irish who are waiting for the plane, and you start to see something that is very hard to describe in words, but everybody knows it.

"You start to see Irish faces, ways of moving. People are uneasy, people are watching, people think they're going to be challenged. There's some way of pushing a trolley through an airport that Irish people do which is not with the same swing or confidence that you might find from Italian people, or people from another country or culture.

"There's a sense of being careful. Everyone feels it when they come up to that place where the Irish are gathered to get on the plane. Then once you get on the plane, you're hit with a sense of, you're in a place that's like Ireland."

irish author colm tóibín says brooklyn sequel long island touches on 'common experience of irish in america'

Eilis and Jim in Brooklyn walking on the beach, water in the background

The novel begins with the revelation that Eilis is now trapped in an unhappy marriage to Tony Fiorello, the Italian plumber she met in Brooklyn. Eilis faces devastating news that Tony has made another man’s wife pregnant.

Colm, who teaches at Columbia University in New York, spent time in Enniscorthy while writing the book, which was included in Oprah Winfrey's latest book club pick. He revealed why he ultimately chose Long Island as the location for the sequel, though, and how it wasn't necessarily linked to the boroughs where the Irish most settled.

"I'd go out on Long Island a lot on my own and just walk around but I never took notes because you need to absorb it, you need to take it in," Colm explained. "It's not information you take in - it's an image that has resonance and wants to stay with you.

"In 'Brooklyn,' Tony promises Eilis that when they get married, they will go and build these houses and the place I thought of where there were green fields, where they would build them, was Long Island.

"Tony's family were putting in the infrastructure [to build the house] so it wouldn't be a question of moving to the Bronx or Queens or places that were already built. Tony and his brothers built four houses. It's not an Irish thing as much as it is a place where people could go in the 50s or early 60s and build houses for their families."

Long Island is set in the 1970s but is not governed by time. Characters allude to violence in the north of Ireland and Watergate but Colm says the decision not to expand on both countries' socio-political landscapes was "deliberate".

"There are very small time markers," he went on. "Jim mentions the bombs in Dublin and they mention Nixon so there's a few times you realize this is post-Watergate and it's The Troubles.

"It's not the Bloody Sunday Troubles and it's not the Hunger Strike Troubles, though. It's in between, so it's 1976. That's deliberate. Very emphatically I wanted this to be a novel about private life but of course these things matter."

For the latest local news and features on Irish America, visit our homepage here.

OTHER NEWS

11 minutes ago

‘Strawberry moon' will bring another rare sight to the sky this week. When to see it

12 minutes ago

Justin Timberlake has no rehab plans after DWI bust, apologizes to tour crew: reports

12 minutes ago

Ryan Garcia punishment revealed as troubled boxer 'settles doping scandal' after failed tests from Devin Haney win

14 minutes ago

Grey's Anatomy Season 20 Confirms Netflix US Release Date

15 minutes ago

An airline startup that hopes to fly Airbus A380s between New York and London is delaying its launch to 2025

15 minutes ago

David Robinson on Tim Duncan being similar to Michael Jordan: “Tim is every bit the assassin that Michael was”

15 minutes ago

The US can cut rates if inflation stays around 2%: Austan Goolsbee

15 minutes ago

"Yall dug this hole, then get out of it" - The Phil Jackson tactic Lue used with LeBron and the Cavaliers

15 minutes ago

Doug Christie on playing with Jason Williams: "Jason is Houdini with the ball, and that rubs off on everybody else in the locker room"

15 minutes ago

Lakers agree to deal making J.J. Redick their next head coach

15 minutes ago

Euro 2024 day seven: England fail to impress as Spain seal last-16 spot

16 minutes ago

UH removes Chris Pezman as athletics director

17 minutes ago

Jessica Alba 'spent months preparing for Trigger Warning'

17 minutes ago

Selflessness is key to happiness, says Tom Brady

17 minutes ago

Rob Lowe hails Donald Sutherland as 'one of our greatest actors'

17 minutes ago

Yankees' Top Prospect Suffers Yet Another Injury

17 minutes ago

Syracuse Football: 2024 Orange Season Preview and Prediction

17 minutes ago

He Loves His Bugatti So Much, He Parks It In the Living Room of His $10.999 Million Las Vegas Home

17 minutes ago

I'd love to star on The Traitors, says Lala Kent

17 minutes ago

Who Are Donald Sutherland's Five Kids? Everything to Know

17 minutes ago

Canada takes on South America's best at the Copa America

17 minutes ago

Atletico Madrid ‘target Chelsea striker’ after rejecting bid for key frontman

17 minutes ago

Trump Media Stock Tumbles as SEC Decision Could Flood Market With New Shares

17 minutes ago

‘It still hasn’t sunk in’: B.C. woman wins $1.2 million

19 minutes ago

Stock futures are little changed after S&P 500 briefly tops 5,500: Live updates

21 minutes ago

Extremely wet spring causes boom in mosquito population

21 minutes ago

Big check for housing in Fort Worth's Stop Six neighborhood

21 minutes ago

A German town's referendum on culling pigeons has led to an uproar by animal rights activists

21 minutes ago

Sunak ‘extremely angry’ over gambling scandal but refuses to suspend candidates involved

21 minutes ago

Half of America desperately needs a Fed rate cut right now: Charles Payne

21 minutes ago

Late leveler by Serbia denies Slovenia first Euros win

21 minutes ago

Brian Windhorst Has Stern Reality Check For Mark Cuban After Mavericks Lose In Finals

21 minutes ago

Prince William pays England stars personal visit in dressing room after Denmark display

21 minutes ago

Phil Salt, 87 from 47 balls, on near perfect England eight wicket West Indies win

21 minutes ago

You only need this five-move beginner dumbbell workout to build total-body strength

21 minutes ago

Interactive map shows future climate of your city based on emissions scenarios

21 minutes ago

GPS jam on commercial flight for the first time

25 minutes ago

Denied the ‘right to hug': In many U.S. jails, video calls are the only way detainees can see loved ones

25 minutes ago

India Vs Afg Fantasy XI Hot Pick & Avoid Pick

25 minutes ago

The NFL's Comeback Player of the Year Award is slowly closing the Joe Flacco loophole