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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 "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. 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.From the Hardcover edition.
In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force." Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined. Newfoundland, 1919. Two aviators--Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown--set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War. Dublin, 1845 and '46. On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause--despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave. New York, 1998. Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland's notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion. These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on. From the loughs of Ireland to the flatlands of Missouri and the windswept coast of Newfoundland, their journeys mirror the progress and shape of history. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory. The most mature work yet from an incomparable storyteller, TransAtlantic is a profound meditation on identity and history in a wide world that grows somehow smaller and more wondrous with each passing year.Advance praise for TransAtlantic "This novel is beautifully hypnotic in its movements, from the grand (between two continents, across three centuries) to the most subtle. Silkily threading together public events and private feelings, TransAtlantic says no to death with every line."--Emma Donoghue "A masterful and profoundly moving novel that employs exquisite language to explore the limits of language and the tricks of memory . . . epic in ambition . . . audacious in format."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "A beautiful writer . . . This is what interests McCann: lives made amid and despite violence; the hidden braids of places, times, and people; the way the old days 'arrive back in the oddest ways.' "--Publishers Weekly Praise for Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin, Winner of the National Book Award "One of the most electric, profound novels I have read in years."--Jonathan Mahler, The New York Times Book Review "Stunning . . . [an] elegiac glimpse of hope."--USA Today "There's so much passion and humor and pure life force on every page that you'll find yourself giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed."--Dave Eggers
The novel begins in Czechoslovakia in the early 1930s when Zoli, a young Roma girl, is six years old. The fascist Hlinka guards had driven most of her people out onto the frozen lake and forced them to stay there until the spring, when the ice cracked and everyone drowned - Zoli's parents, brothers and sisters. Now she and her grandfather head off in search of a 'company'. Zoli teaches herself to read and write and becomes a singer, a privileged position in a gypsy company as they are viewed as the guardians of gypsy tradition. But Zoli is different because she secretly writes down some of her songs. With the rise of the Nazis, the suppression of the gypsies intensifies. The war ends when Zoli is 16 and with the spread of socialism, the Roma are suddenly regarded as 'citizens' and 'comrades' again. Zoli meets Stephen Swann, a man she will have a passionate affair with, but who will also betray her. He persuades Zoli to publish some of her work - a coup because there has never been a gypsy poet. But when the government try to use Zoli to help them in their plan to 'settle' gypsies, her community turns against her. They condemn her to 'Pollution for Life', which means she is exiled from them forever. She begins a journey that will eventually lead her to Italy and a new life. Zoli is based very loosely on the true story of the Gypsy poet, Papsuza, who was sentenced to a Life of Pollution by her fellow Roma when a Polish intellectual published her poems. But Colum has turned this into so much more - it's a brilliantly written work that brings the culture and the time to life, an incredibly rich story about betrayal and redemption, and storytelling in all its guises.
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