Let the Great World Spin

Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin
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Let the Great World Spin

Colum McCann

It’s New York, August 1974: a man is walking in the sky.

Between the newly built Twin Towers, the man twirls through the air. Far below, the lives of complete strangers spin towards each other: Corrigan, a radical Irish monk working in the Bronx; Claire, a delicate Upper East Side housewife reeling from the death of her son; Lara, a drug-addled young artist; Gloria, solid and proud despite decades of hardship; Tillie, a hooker who used to dream of a better life; and Jazzlyn, her beautiful daughter raised on promises that reach beyond the skyline of New York.

In the shadow of one reckless and beautiful act, these disparate lives will collide, and be transformed for ever.


In 1974, Phillipe Petit walked a tightrope between the twin towers; it was the nadir in the unpopularity of the Vietnam War; and it was the year the first emails were sent. Irish writer Colum McCann use these occurrences as metaphors for 9/11 in his new book.

The lives of three people are oddly connected by Pettit’s walk and recounted in this wonderful, sweeping novel. Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, questions his faith as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the decrepit Bronx. Claire mourns the death of her son and joins a disparate group of mothers whose sons who died in Vietnam. Tillie, a 38-year-old prostitute and grandmother, walks the streets with her teenage daughter. McCann pulls these lives together to create a powerful and immensely readable novel.

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