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Colum McCann to Speak at Catawba College's 2011 Brady Author's Symposium

February 7, 2011

Category: Events


Author Colum McCann, winner of the 2009 National Book Award for his novel, "Let the Great World Spin," will be the featured speaker at the 25th annual Brady Author's Symposium scheduled Thursday, March 3, 2011.

In a July 2009 "New York Times" review, contributing writer Jonathan Mahler called McCann's "Let the Great World Spin," "an emotional tour de force."  "It is a heartbreaking book," Mahler wrote, "but not a depressing one. Through their anguish, McCann's characters manage to find comfort, even a kind of redemption."

McCann's other novels include "Zoli," "Dancer" "This Side of Brightness," and "Songdogs," as well as two story collections. His work has been published in 30 languages.

Born in Dublin in 1965, McCann was one of five children born to father Sean, a journalist for the Irish Press newspaper group, and mother Sally, a homemaker. His father, a former professional soccer player with Charlton Athletic in London, was also a literary editor for a Dublin newspaperr and helped foster McCann's love of books.

He attended St Brigid's National School in Foxrock, and at age 12, went to Clonkeen College, Deansgrange, a Christian Brother's school. Although he was encouraged to follow a course in languages and international marketing, McCann chose instead to attend the College of Commerce Rathmines in 1982, which offered the only journalism course in Ireland at the time. He graduated from there in 1984 and worked for several years for various Irish newspapers, even landing his own column in the "Evening Press."

In 1986, he took  a trip to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he thought he would write "the great Irish-American novel."  Instead, he realized that he needed some real-world experience. He took off on a 12,000-mile bike trip across almost 40 states in search of that experience.
During a stop in Texas on his journey, he worked as a wilderness guide at Miracle Farm, in a program for juvenile delinquents. McCann recalls reading aloud classics like "Catcher in the Rye" to these troubled youths while on three-month trips with them in the wilderness. After leaving Miracle Farm, he went to get a B.A at the University of Texas.

It was during a short trip from Texas to New York City, that McCann met his future wife, Allison. The two married in 1992 and departed for Japan where she studied Japanese while he wrote. He finished his short story collection, "Fishing the Sloe-Black River," which he had begun in Texas, and began work on "Songdogs," his first novel. After a year and a half in Japan, the couple moved to New York, where they currently live with their three children. McCann continues to write and to teach creative writing at Hunter College in New York.

McCann was the inaugural winner of the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Award in Memory of Princess Grace and has been a finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2005, his short film, "Everything in This Country Must," was nominated for an Oscar. He is a contributor to "The New Yorker," "The New York Times Magazine," "The Atlantic Monthly," and "The Paris Review."

Tickets for the symposium are now available through the Catawba College Public Relations Office at (704) 637-4393. SymposiumEvents include a lecture ($15), luncheon ($20), book signing (free), and an exclusive writing question and answer session ($15), all of which will take place in the Robertson College-Community Center on campus.

Robertson College-Community Center

Seated Luncheon*
Peeler Crystal Lounge
*Luncheon reservations are limited and will be taken in the order in which they are received.

Book Signing
Lobby of Keppel Auditorium

Exclusive Writing Q&A
Hedrick Little Theatre


PhotosPHOTOS: Colum McCann 

NewsMcCann's Storytelling Wins over Audience  (



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