Colum McCann biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Readalikes

Colum McCann
Photo: Seamus Kearney

Colum McCann

Colum McCann Biography

Colum McCann is the author of seven novels and three collections of stories. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. In 2017 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts. His work has been published in over 40 languages. He is the co-founder of the non-profit global story exchange organisation, Narrative 4, and he teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College. He lives in New York with his wife, Allison, and their family.

Colum McCann's website

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Interview

Colum McCann discusses the relevance of fiction, what he's doing to ensure women's voices are key players in his work and his favorite aspect of being a writer.

Elizabeth Strout: I love the wide range of your narratives, how you dare to cover so many aspects of world events through the personal stories of those involved. How do you make the decision to end where you end, and begin where you begin? Is this an intuitive sense for you?

Colum McCann: Writing is very much about the intuitive, the gut instinct, the shotgun leap into the unknown. Most of the time, I don't necessarily know where I'm going. I have a general goal, an end-line, but I'm not sure how it is that I'm going to get there. Being too conscious of a journey brings a malady to it. You can overthink it sometimes. It's better to go with the gut feeling.

I think it's very much akin to being an adventurer or an explorer. You know you want to find new territory. The nature of its newness makes it inherently exciting. You cast yourself out in a small boat in the hope that you will get somewhere. Most of the time you end up capsizing or catching the wrong current or, even worse, ship-wrecking. But every now and then—when the words are moving, and the sentences begin to align themselves, and the imaginative intent has caught fire with language—you strike new land. A sort of Galá...

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Books by this Author

Books by Colum McCann at BookBrowse
Apeirogon jacket Thirteen Ways of Looking jacket TransAtlantic jacket Let the Great World Spin jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Colum McCann but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood

    Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, and grew up in northern Ontario and Quebec, and in Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master's degree ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Thirteen Ways of Looking

    Try:
    Stone Mattress
    by Margaret Atwood

  • Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes

    Julian Barnes was born in Leicester, England on January 19, 1946. He was educated at the City of London School from 1957 to 1964 and at Magdalen College, Oxford, from which he graduated in modern languages (with honors) in ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Thirteen Ways of Looking

    Try:
    The Sense of an Ending
    by Julian Barnes

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