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.
"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)
"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)
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Too breathtaking to read just once...
Year's best book.
I fell in love with the marvelous word-craft of Colum McCann when I read AS THE GREAT WORLD TURNS. Like that award-winning book, the is a book with many threads, many nuances, many colors. All of it is glorious. What I love best about this story is the entrancing language. As I've told everyone I can get my hands on, I read this book in just two days because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. But I shall read it again, starting today, this time at a more meditative pace, the better to immerse myself in the McCann's language, his pacing, his art. What a writer!!!
I do not recall hearing Geraldine Hughes prior to this book, but I will be researching her other narratives. She is absolutely spot-on, the BEST, the ONLY person they could have chosen for this book. Like a true pro, she embodies each character, both men and women, black, white, Irish, British, old and young, in such a way that I never once thought I was listening to a book--I was simply in it.
One of my favorite books ever, certainly among the best I've read so far in 2013. As far as laughing or crying, I listened to the final chapter while making dinner. As the last few paragraphs were coming up (and I didn't know they were the last), I found myself standing over the kitchen sink, tears running down my face. I felt grief-stricken, yet so imbued with love and gratitude for all the grace that life, in its terrors, does offer us. That's what Colum McCann can do to you.
As soon as the last word was read, I immediately back-tracked to listen to the last chapter again. Today, I am starting the book over from Chapter 1--and this time I'll take it slow, savoring every sinewy sentence that McCann has so beautifully created.
As I said above, read it once for the terrific tale. Read it again immediately after for the grand language, a truly marvelous effort from McCann.
Yeah...let me skip to the crux of it...JUST BUY IT!
- Annie M.
Historical fiction with a philosophical message