The South

Colm Tóibín

04 April 2024
272 pages


A modern classic work of Irish literature, this award-winning novel is an exploration of love, art and identity.

This was the night train to Barcelona, some hours before the dawn. This was 1950, late September. I had left my husband. I had left my home.

Katherine Proctor has dared to leave her family in Ireland and reach out for a new life. Determined to become an artist, she flees to Spain, where she meets Miguel, a passionate man who has fought for his own freedoms. They retreat to the quiet intensity of the mountains and begin to build a life together. But as Miguel’s past catches up with him, Katherine too is forced to re-examine her relationships: with her lover, her painting and the homeland she only thought she knew. . .

The South is the book that introduced readers to the astonishing gifts of Colm Tóibín, winning the Irish Times First Fiction Award in 1991.

'An imaginative, deeply felt and evocative tale' The Sunday Times

'Colm Tóibín writes prose of a heartbreaking beauty' Hilary Mantel

A broad and beautifully worked canvas . . . An imaginative, deeply felt and evocative tale
A daring, imaginative feat; the world it conjures is at once familiar and strange, and strangely moving. A splendid first novel
This is a strong and moving work of fiction about the hard truths of changing one's life. Colm Tóibín, like his characters, never says too much and never lets us grow too comfortable. A grand achievement