New York Times writer Joel Lovell has written a thoughtful piece on Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin (Random House), which won the National Book Award, and a new novel, TransAtlantic (Random House, June 2013). Titled “Colum McCann’s Radical Empathy,” the profile is set in the recent aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy as McCann travels to the afflicted school to speak to the high school students upon a teacher’s request. It delves into the value of Let the Great World Spin (which was added to the Newtown high school curriculum) as a transcendent history that can ease the pains of tragedy, “a book that,” Newtown teacher Lee Keylock says, “might help their students begin to make sense of their terrible shock and grief.” From there, the article moves into McCann’s own life, crossing briefly into McCann’s childhood in Ireland, to his desire as a writer to work in “the blurred spaces between fiction and nonfiction.” Granting insight into McCann’s humor, gravity, and ambition, the piece permits a glimpse into the life of the man who writes, while “‘in the cupboard,’” about the magnitude of the world.
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