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National Book Award Winner Colum McCann

December 16, 2009 | Book Beat, Newsmakers

“I’m bursting with joy and pride — and a certain amount of terror, to be honest,” said Colum McCann on winning the 2009 National Book Award for fiction, now in its 60th year. “But one must go on to the next book, and that, sometimes, is the more difficult.” McCann’s bold novel, “Let the Great World Spin,” which uses Philippe Petit’s famous high-wire walk between the Twin Towers in 1974 as a prism to examine the story’s main characters, took home the top prize on Nov. 18. Author of two short-story collections and five previous novels including bestsellers “Dancer” and “Zoli,” McCann has taught in Hunter College’s MFA Creative Writing program for nearly five years. At his office, he discussed his teaching approach and how his love for American literature began early in Ireland. “My father was a literary editor for a newspaper in Dublin and he would come home with books by Steinbeck and Faulkner. I remember holding them in my hands.”
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