Frank Tuohy never had a wide general audience, nor did he find favor with academic critics. Still, his writing received high praise from reviewers and from prominent fiction writers. C. P. Snow, Muriel Spark, and Graham Greene all praised Tuohy’s fiction.
The high praise from reviewers and fellow writers is reflected in the honors that were bestowed on Tuohy. His first short-story collection, The Admiral and the Nuns, with Other Stories, received the Katherine Mansfield-Menton Prize (1960), and Live Bait, and Other Stories won the William Heinemann Memorial Award (1979).
Tuohy’s third novel, The Ice Saints (1964), received both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. In England, Tuohy was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1965. Two major awards demonstrate the high standing his fiction holds among the literati in the United States. In 1972, the American Institute of Arts and Letters bestowed on him the E. M. Forster Award. In 1995, Tuohy came to New York City to receive the 1994 Bennett Award of twenty thousand dollars from the Hudson Review. Eight years earlier, in 1987, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Purdue University.
Flower, Dean. “Frank Tuohy and the Poetics of Depression.” The Hudson Review 49 (Spring, 1996): 87-96. Suggests that such collections of Tuohy’s short stories as Fingers in the Door and Other Stories and The Admiral and the Nuns, with Other Stories may be out of print because most readers probably found them too depressing; concludes that what makes all of Tuohy’s works worth reading is their anguished and inconsolable tone.
Hazzard, Shirley. Review of Fingers in the Door and Other Stories, by Frank Tuohy. The New York Times Book Review, September, 1970, 5. Hazzard asserts that Tuohy writes with Chekhovian simplicity about “the violence we do to others and ourselves” and discusses several of the stories in light of this assertion.
King, Francis. “Obituary: Frank Tuohy.” The Independent, April 15, 1999, p. 6. A biographical sketch of Tuohy’s life and literary career, commenting on his early fiction, his resemblance to W. Somerset Maugham in his attitude toward sex, and his receiving the Katherine Mansfield-Menton Prize for his first volume of short stories.
Prescott, Peter S. “The Whiplash Effect.” Review of The Collected Stories, by Frank Tuohy. Newsweek, February 4, 1985, p. 78. Prescott argues that Tuohy’s stories are “extremely pessimistic” but powerful in their portrayal of human pain. Particularly effective, he says, is the “whiplash effect,” by means of which Tuohy, having caused the reader to sympathize with a character, suddenly reverses direction and shows the character in an unfavorable light.
Snow, C. P. “Snapshot Album.” Review of Fingers in the Door and Other Stories, by Frank Tuohy. Financial Times, London, May 14, 1970. Snow remarks that Tuohy’s “great gifts” are concentration, “intensive exactness,” and a language that is “as firm and limpid as English can be.” He discusses the “sociology” of Tuohy’s stories and demonstrates how in three of these Tuohy’s characteristic theme of pain and loneliness is effectively presented.
Wilson, Jason. “Foreigners Abroad: Frank Tuohy’s Three Novels.” London Magazine, July, 1992. Jason Wilson, although writing mostly about Tuohy’s long fiction, which he praises as still perceptive about “Britons abroad” even though thirty years out of print, finds his novels “episodic, linked short stories.” He says, “The stories cover the same area of exploration [but, because compressed] offer a greater sense of the mystery of people, for there is less need for a plot.”