One of the world’s leading authors – the award-winning novelist Colum McCann – has chosen Belfast for the launch of his latest work ‘Transatlantic’.
The Dublin-born writer, whose last book, the post/911 ‘Let the Great World Spin’ won the prestigious US National Book Award and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, has turned his attentions to Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.
‘Transatlantic’ is an ambitious, epic story, spanning three centuries and two continents and deals with real and imagined characters, including Senator George Mitchell, chair of the talks that led to a transformation in the relationship between Britain and Ireland.
David Torrans of No Alibis Bookstore said he was very excited about hosting the book launch at the Ulster Museum on Friday evening.
He said: “It is wonderful that Belfast has been chosen for the launch of this very important novel. Colum McCann is a powerful writer and I am sure that people in Northern Ireland will be captivated by how incisively he writes about the Good Friday Agreement from an historical perspective.”
The book deals with the lives of people caught up in three momentous events – slavery, the First World War and the Irish peace process.
McCann, who is now based in New York, has written a beautifully, hypnotic book that examines how the past can shape the future by looking at the relationship between the Ireland and the US.
The book starts in 1919 as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of World War One to pilot the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the West of Ireland.
It switches to 1998 and Senator George Mitchell leaving his wife and new born son to chair the peace talks in Belfast.
In the third layer, it is 1848 and Frederick Douglass, a black American slave lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom only to find a famine unfurling at his feet.
On his travels he inspires a young Irish maid to travel to New York to embrace the free world but the land does not always fulfil its promise and her youngest daughter Emily eventually finds her way back to Ireland.
Colum McCann, originally from Dublin, is the author of six novels and two collections of stories. His most recent novel, the New York Times best seller, ‘Let the Great World Spin, won the National Book Award in the US, the international IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and several other major international awards. His fiction has been published in 35 languages. He lives in New York.