Colum McCann


Three novels that span the 20th century's tumult.



Elin Hilderbrand Irish by birth and a New Yorker by choice, Colum McCann has mapped in his fiction the experience of a wide range of characters, from the "sandhogs" who built Manhattan's subterranean architecture (This Side of Brightness) to the ballet maestro Rudolf Nureyev (Dancer). His novel Let the Great World Spin observes the frayed and fraught metropolis of the 1970s. Here, the author shares three favorite novels.


Books by Colum McCann





By James Joyce


"My own great-grandfather walked the streets of Dublin on June 16th, 1904. But Leopold Bloom -- who walks those same streets in the 20th century's greatest novel -- is as real or perhaps even more real than he. This is the job and the beauty of fiction. We become alive in a body and a time not our own. We are given insights not only into others, but the deepest parts of ourselves. We know our fathers, and our father's fathers because fictions get built around them. This is a book of everywhere."




By Don DeLillo


"An exquisite symphony with all the dirt, the grime, the garbage, the beauty, the depth, the meaning and the chatter of our times. DeLillo starts out: 'He speaks in your voice, American …,' and then goes on to examine our relationship to history and what it means to the everyday. DeLillo finds consequence - and dignity - in even the most anonymous corners."




By John Williams


"An American classic, largely ignored, but recently resurrected. Stoner is the apparently simple story of a professor of the classics in a college in the American mid-West, but it becomes a contemplation of love, of dedication, of literature, of heartbreak, and, quite literally, what it means to be alive. A book about turbulence in the silence, Stoner is a book that reaches into your ribcage and squeezes your heart backwards."


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangledeshi mathematician and the haunting crime he's committed barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and ravaged Afghanistan with vinegar-steeped prose recalling the best of George Orwell and Joseph Conrad.

The People's Platform

Why is the Internet - once touted as the democratizer of the future - ruled by a few corporate giants, while countless aspirants work for free? Astra Taylor diagnoses why the web has failed to be a utopian playing field, and offers compelling ways we can diversify the marketplace and give voice to the marginalized.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.