NYS Writers institute, March 18, 2003
Colum McCann's first novel was Songdogs (1995), the story of seven days in the life of a young Irishman, abandoned by his beautiful mother at age 12, and confronted by his father's emotional and physical disintegration. The Times Literary Supplement called Songdogs, "an exciting book [that] vibrates with the energy of a new writer finding his voice."
McCann's second novel, This Side of Brightness (1998), was hailed as "a triumph" by the New York Times. Spanning most of the 20th century, the novel begins with the life of Nathan Walker, a black man from Georgia who works as a sandhog building tunnels beneath New York City's East River. When an Irish coworker is killed in an accident, Walker takes responsibility for the family. Many years later, he marries the Irishman's daughter and ultimately fathers a line of descendants--all of whom must confront death and tragedy during the course of their lives in the City of New York. The reviewer for BookPage said that the novel addresses "the big issues of race, love and time with a literary majesty that completely befits the nature and scope of this family epic."
McCann's other books include the story collection, Fishing the Sloe-Black River (1993), and Everything in This CountryMust: A Novella and Two Stories, all of them set in Northern Ireland, "are beautifully, poetically written. . ."
Colum McCann is also a journalist who has written for various newspapers, including the Herald, Evening Press, and Connaught Telegraph, in Ireland, and for United Press International in New York City. McCann adapted his short story Fishing the Sloe-Black River as a short film (1996). He is working currently on two film projects, an adaptation of Songdogs, and Manlove, a film based on is original screenplay. He has received a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and the Grace Kelly Memorial Foundation Award. His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Month, and GQ.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.