Author of Let The Great World Spin
"[an] emotional tour de force"—The New York Times, on Let The Great World Spin
On stage, Colum McCann offers insight into the art of the writer's craft, recounting examples from the creation of his own bestselling novel, Let The Great World Spin. A polyphonic work set in the New York of the 1970s, but serving as an allegory of the city's resilient post-9/11 self, Spin placed McCann—whose remarkable previous books include Zoli and Dancer—at the very top rank of contemporary novelists. Sometimes, nice guys finish first.
His most recent novel, TransAtlantic, combines the real-life narratives of Frederick Douglass, Alcock and Brown, and Senator George Mitchell. It has been longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize. His latest collection of short fiction, Thirteen Ways of Looking—his first collection in over a decade—charts the territory of chance, and the profound and intimate consequences of even our smallest moments.
languages. All were international bestsellers. He was named Esquire's Writer of the Year in 2003, and was awarded a French Chevalier des arts et lettres in 2009. Other awards include The Pushcart Prize and The National Book Award. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The Irish Times. He currently teaches at Hunter College in New York.
An Evening with Colum McCann
On stage, Colum McCann provides a graceful look into the writer's craft and, specifically, the way he writes, which is to observe everything. How does he use seemingly insignificant moments and fleeting interactions to conjure a specific place in time? How does he breathe life into complex characters, and, in the process, create a realistic sense of what it means to be alive? Described by The New York Times as having "the convivial charm of someone who enjoys lifting a glass with a wide circle of friends," McCann is as strong a speaker as he is a writer.
Thirteen Ways of Looking
In such acclaimed novels as Let the Great World Spin and TransAtlantic, National Book Award–winning author Colum McCann has transfixed readers with his precision, tenderness, and authority. Now, in his first collection of short fiction in more than a decade, McCann charts the territory of chance, and the profound and intimate consequences of even our smallest moments.
“As it was, it was like being set down in the best of poems, carried into a cold landscape, blindfolded, turned around, unblindfolded, forced, then, to invent new ways of seeing.”
In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life’s work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In “Sh’khol,” a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In “Treaty,” an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year’s Eve.
Deeply personal, subtly subversive, at times harrowing, and indeed funny, yet also full of comfort, Thirteen Ways of Looking is a striking achievement. With unsurpassed empathy for his characters and their inner lives, Colum McCann forges from their stories a profound tribute to our search for meaning and grace. The collection is a rumination on the power of storytelling in a world where language and memory can sometimes falter, but in the end do not fail us, and a contemplation of the healing power of literature.
Let The Great World Spin: A Novel
In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann's stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.
Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author's most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann's powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the â€œartistic crime of the century.
A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a "fiercely original talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
Zoli: A Novel
A unique love story, a tale of loss, a parable of Europe, this haunting novel is an examination of intimacy and betrayal in a community rarely captured so vibrantly in contemporary literature.
Zoli Novotna, a young woman raised in the traveling Gypsy tradition, is a poet by accident as much as desire. As 1930s fascism spreads over Czechoslovakia, Zoli and her grandfather flee to join a clan of fellow Romani harpists. Sharpened by the world of books, which is often frowned upon in the Romani tradition, Zoli becomes the poster girl for a brave new world. As she shapes the ancient songs to her times, she finds her gift embraced by the Gypsy people and savored by a young English expatriate, Stephen Swann. But Zoli soon finds that when she falls she cannot fall halfway-- neither in love nor in politics.
While Zoli's fame and poetic skills deepen, the ruling Communists begin to use her for their own favor. Cast out from her family, Zoli abandons her past to journey to the West, in a novel that spans the 20th century and travels the breadth of Europe. Colum McCann, acclaimed author of Dancer and This Side of Brightness, has created a sensuous novel about exile, belonging and survival, based loosely on the true story of the Romani poet Papsuza. It spans the twentieth century and travels the breadth of Europe. In the tradition of Steinbeck, Coetzee, and Ondaatje, McCann finds the art inherent in social and political history, while vividly depicting how far one gifted woman must journey to find where she belongs.