Wednesday, December 2, 2009

National Book Award Winner in PB

Hot off the press! Colum McCann's latest novel, Let the Great World Spin, won the National Book Award for fiction last week. And today the paperback version arrived in our store! This bestselling, award-winning book opens on August 7, 1974, as Philippe Petit attempts to cross between the twin towers of the World Trade Center on a high wire. This illegal act leads him to the courtroom of Judge Solomon Soderberg, and the book cascades from there. This is a novel of origins and consequences and unexpectedly connected characters.

The late author Frank McCourt called the book a "blockbuster groundbreaking heartbreaking symphony of a novel," and Dave Eggers said of it "There's so much passion and humor and pure life force on every page that you'll find yourself giddy, dizzy, and overwhelmed."

In recognizing McCann's book, the judges had this to say: "Like the funambulist at the heart of this extraordinary novel, Colum McCann accomplishes a gravity-defying feat: from ten ordinary lives he crafts an indelibly hallucinatory portrait of a decaying New York City, and offers through his generosity of spirit and lyrical gifts an ecstatic vision of the human courage required to stay aloft above the ever-yawning abyss."

And just how cool is that word: funambulist? I have to say I don't think I've ever had reason to use it before, but I sure hope I do again! It means, of course, "one who performs on a tightrope or a slack rope" and comes from the Latin roots funis (rope) and ambulare (to walk).

McCann's other books include Zoli, Dancer, and This Side of Brightness. He was born in Dublin in 1965 and began his career as a journalist in The Irish Press. In the early 1980s 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. McCann teaches in the creative writing program at Hunter College, with fellow novelists Peter Carey and Nathan Englander.

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