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Colum McCann
Colum McCann

NYS Writers institute, March 18, 2003
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Assembly Hall, Campus Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center

Irish expatriate Colum McCann's new book is Dancer (January 2003), a biographical novel about ballet celebrity Rudolf Nureyev. Dancer begins with Nureyev's bleak impoverished boyhood in the Soviet village of Ufa, and follows his meteoric rise in the world ballet from his acceptance into Leningrad's prestigious Ballet School in 1955 to his conquest of audiences in both Europe and America. In the 1970s and 80s, Nureyev embraced the drug abuse and sexual promiscuity of New York's gay celebrity subculture, and eventually died of AIDS in 1993. The novel features a kaleidoscopic cast of characters based on historical personalities, from Russian peasants to Soviet-era teachers to ballet legend Margot Fonteyn and pop star John Lennon. The novel's release is being timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Nureyev's death.

"a vibrant, imaginative patchwork of a novel. . .a lovely showcase for [McCann's] fluid prose and storytelling skill." - Publisher's Weekly (starred review)

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."

SongdogsMcCann'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."

This Side of BrightnessMcCann'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. . ."

Everything in This Country MustColum 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.

Addtional Link:
Writers Online Magazine Article

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.