Colum McCann is the winner of the 2011 International Impac Dublin Literary Award for his book, Let the Great World Spin for which he was also honored with the 2009 National Book Award for fiction in the United States. The award has been given annually since 1996, and comes with a prize of about $141,000. The contest is sponsored by the Dublin city government and Impac, a productivity improvement company.
Let the Great World Spin has been called McCann's most ambitious novel yet. It tells the rich vision of pain, lovliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. 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. 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 “artistic 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.
Mr. McCann, an Irish-born writer of literary fiction, is also the internationally bestselling author of the novels Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and Songdogs, as well as two critically acclaimed story collections. His fiction has been published in thirty languages. He has been named one of Esquire's "Best and Brightest," and his short film, Everything in this Country Must was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. He is a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review. He teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing Program.
He lives in New York City with his wife and their three children.