Colum McCann is the author of two collections of short stories and five novels, including “This Side of Brightness,”"Dancer” and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers. His newest novel is “Let the Great World Spin.” His fiction has been published in 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review, Bomb and other places. He has written for numerous publications including The Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, The New York Times, the Guardian and the Independent.
In 2003 Colum was named Esquire magazine’s “Writer of the Year.” Other awards and honors include a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Hennessy Award for Irish Literature, the Irish Independent Hughes and Hughes/Sunday Independent Novel of the Year 2003, and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award.
His short film “Everything in this Country Must,” directed by Gary McKendry, was nominated for an Academy Award Oscar in 2005.
In May 2009 Colum was inducted into Aosdana, the equivalent of the Irish Academy, one of Ireland’s highest literary honours.
In fall 2009, Colum will be awarded a French Chevalier des arts et lettres by the French government, making him one of a exclusive number of foreign artists recognised in France for their literary contributions: other recipients have included Paul Auster, Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes.
In September 2009 Colum will be awarded the Deauville Festival of Cinema Literary Prize in Deauxville, France.
Colum was born in Dublin in 1965 and began his career as a journalist in The Irish Press. In the early 1980′s he took a bicycle across North America and then worked as a wilderness guide in a program for juvenile delinquents in Texas. After a year and a half in Japan, he and his wife Allison moved to New York where they currently live with their three children, Isabella, John Michael and Christian.
Colum teaches in Hunter College in New York, in the Creative Writing program, with fellow novelists Peter Carey and Nathan Englander.
Colum’s fifth novel, “Let the Great World Spin” is scheduled for release in the U.S on June 23rd, 2009. An extract was published in the Paris Review in fall 2008, followed by another extract in Bomb magazine. The British and Irish release will be in August, while European publishers will quickly follow up – in what amounts to an unprecedented international publication – in September 2009.
The novel begins in August 1974 as a tightrope walker makes his way through the dawn light across the World Trade Center towers, stunning thousands of watchers below. Using the true story of Philippe Petit as a pull-through metaphor, McCann crafts a portrait of the city and a people. There’s Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, who struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn the sons who died in Vietnam – they soon discover how much divides them even in their grief. Further uptown, Tillie, a 38-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenaged daughter, determined not only to take care of her “babies” but to prove her own worth.
Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s powerful allegory of 9/11 comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the tightrope walker’s “artistic crime of the century.” McCann’s most ambitious work to date, Let the Great World Spin has already been described as a triumphant American novel.
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