As a boy, he learned to kiss the corpse at a traditional island wake. As a film maker and witness to death in many conflict zones around the world, Kevin Toolis has written a profound book on the culture of grief and death, placing the personal alongside the political in a vivid exploration of our ancient ways of coming together around the dead. This is a moving family story, a memoir of loss and exile, a deep understanding of what makes us alive, casting a cold eye on what is precious and so often denied.
‘The ‘Western Death Machine’ has hidden the dead and dying, but in a remote island off the west coast of Ireland, an almost Homeric society clings to the old ways. The dying are treasured and tenderly watched over, the dead are honoured with the ancient rites and rituals. Contemporary western ideas about death are dominated by individualism; My Father’s Wake is a lyrical description of how community and tradition help us deal with our mortality’ Seamus O’Mahony, author of The Way We Die Now
‘[A] powerful and immensely moving narrative.’ The Sunday Times
‘Kevin Toolis has given us a heartwarming and very personal account of a life well-lived [and] his relationship with his father partly mediated by the island culture of Achill’ Irish Times
‘[A]n enlightening and unflinching dispatch from the frontline, an embedded report by an eyewitness who tries to face death squarely without recourse to mysticism, sentimentality or delusion.’ The Sunday Times (Ireland)
‘Toolis posits an acceptance of the inevitable which, while it does not banish the pain of grief, invests it with a resignation and a grace that is, in essence, healing and somehow life-affirming.’ The Observer
Won at a hard-fought multi-publisher auction, My Father’s Wake was published in September 2017 by Weidenfeld.
Kevin Toolis is a journalist, writer and filmmaker. Born in Edinburgh to Irish parents, Toolis studied at the University of Edinburgh before going on to live and work in the United States and Namibia and to report from all over the world. For a decade he worked as a magazine writer for The Guardian and has also written for the New York Times Magazine and The Observer. Additionally, he has written screenplays for Universal Pictures.
Toolis is an acknowledged terrorism expert and has studied and reported on conflicts in Africa, Ireland and the Middle East.
He is the founder of independent television production company Many Rivers Films. Toolis began making documentary films in the mid-nineties. His reporting and producing credits include Getting Away With Murder, The Devil Amongst Us, Circus Days, Circus Nights, Africa’s Schindler’s List, Anatomy of Attack, Cult of the Suicide Bomber, Car Bomb and The Big Heist.
Toolis won a BAFTA for Best Single Drama for Complicit.
Agent Name: Sam Copeland