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Colum McCann wins IMPAC Dublin Award

June 16, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Colummcann_2007 Colum McCann has won the IMPAC Dublin Award for his novel "Let the Great World Spin." The selection was announced Wednesday at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland. In addition to a lovely statuette, McCann will receive a prize of more than $140,000, one of the largest purses in publishing.

McCann is an Irish native who now lives in New York, where the novel is set. Nominees for the IMPAC Dublin Award don't have to be Irish, though -- that was just a coincidence. Previous winners include "The Twin" by Dutch author Gerbrand Bakker and "DeNiro's Game" by Rawi Hage, who was born in Beirut and immigrated to Canada.

To be eligible, books simply have to be published in an English-language edition in the designated time period. Librarians in capital cities around the world nominate books for consideration.

"Let the Great World Spin," which won the National Book Award in America in 2009, was selected from a shortlist of 10 books. Those on the shortlist included "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver, Joyce Carol Oates' "Little Bird of Heaven" and "The Vagrants" by California writer Yiyun Li.

In 2009, McCann told Jacket Copy, "I put an awful lot of work into this book, and it sort of ripped me up emotionally, and it was a hard one to recover from, just physically, because I put a lot in," then added, "Don't exaggerate that too much. Everybody talks about writers having a hard life. I have the most charmed, most -- I feel entirely blessed and lucky that I have the life that I have. I did have to work hard, but everybody has to work hard. Plumbers have to work hard, carpenters have to work hard, single mothers have to work hard to make ends meet." He concluded, "I think literature can make familiar the unfamiliar, and the unfamiliar is very much about the dispossessed, and so the value of literature seems to me to go into the stories that not everybody wants to tell."


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Colum McCann on high wire acts, writing and 9-11

National Book Awards include McCann, Eggers, Vidal

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Colum McCann in 2007. Credit: James Higgins / Random House