19 November 2009: Arts Council congratulates Colum McCann on winning the National Book Award

The Arts Council extends its warmest congratulations to Colum McCann on the news that Let the Great World Spin has won the highly prestigious US National Book Award.

Following the announcement Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council, said, "Let the Great World Spin is bold, brave and beautifully written. McCann’s gifts as a writer are on full display in this ambitious, moving and multi-layered novel, a work which cements his reputation as one of the most powerful, lyrical and perceptive writers working today. An affecting and tender metaphor for post 9/11 America, the novel tells the stories of a handful of seemingly disconnected individuals in 1970s New York. McCann captures their voices with precision and compassion, wholly absorbing the reader in this complex and stirring narrative."

She continues: "Colum McCann is absolutely dedicated to the craft of writing and his latest novel is testament to his talent, commitment and virtuosity. The National Book Award is richly deserved and the Arts Council congratulates McCann on this most recent success."

Colum McCann’s previous awards include a Hennessy Award in 1990, and the Rooney Prize. He has been a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and was the inaugural winner of the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Award in Memory of Princess Grace. He is a member of Aosdána and was awarded an Arts Council bursary in 1994, at the beginning of his writing career, for £3,000. His fiction has been published in thirty languages and his short film Everything in This Country Must was a 2005 Oscar nominee. McCann is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review. Currently, he teaches at Hunter College and lives in New York City with his wife and children.

Speaking at the recent Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Arts, McCann said a grant from the Arts Council in the early 1990s "gave me the best part of a year to do my work of writing short stories and novels."

"Part of me feels that the grant allowed me to access our great democracy of storytelling. As a younger artist at the time, it was amazing for me to be allowed to be Irish even when I was abroad. Although I was living in New York, I was acknowledged as part of this country’s necessary voice. It was an extraordinary moment for me," Colum McCann added.

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