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TransAtlantic: A Novel | [Colum McCann]

TransAtlantic: A Novel

In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force". Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.
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Publisher's Summary

In the National Book Award-winning Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann thrilled readers with a marvelous high-wire act of fiction that The New York Times Book Review called "an emotional tour de force". Now McCann demonstrates once again why he is one of the most acclaimed and essential authors of his generation with a soaring novel that spans continents, leaps centuries, and unites a cast of deftly rendered characters, both real and imagined.

Newfoundland, 1919: Two aviators - Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown - set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, placing their trust in a modified bomber to heal the wounds of the Great War.

Dublin, 1845 and ’46: On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause - despite the fact that, as famine ravages the countryside, the poor suffer from hardships that are astonishing even to an American slave.

New York, 1998: Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, where it has fallen to him, the son of an Irish-American father and a Lebanese mother, to shepherd Northern Ireland’s notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion.

These three iconic crossings are connected by a series of remarkable women whose personal stories are caught up in the swells of history. Beginning with Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, who crosses paths with Frederick Douglass, the novel follows her daughter and granddaughter, Emily and Lottie, and culminates in the present-day story of Hannah Carson, in whom all the hopes and failures of previous generations live on. From the loughs of Ireland to the flatlands of Missouri and the windswept coast of Newfoundland, their journeys mirror the progress and shape of history. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.

The most mature work yet from an incomparable storyteller, TransAtlantic is a profound meditation on identity and history in a wide world that grows somehow smaller and more wondrous with each passing year.

©2013 Colum McCann (P)2013 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"This novel is beautifully hypnotic in its movements, from the grand (between two continents, across three centuries) to the most subtle. Silkily threading together public events and private feelings, TransAtlantic says no to death with every line." (Emma Donoghue)

"A masterful and profoundly moving novel that employs exquisite language to explore the limits of language and the tricks of memory...epic in ambition...audacious in format." (Kirkus Reviews)

"A beautiful writer... This is what interests McCann: lives made amid and despite violence; the hidden braids of places, times, and people; the way the old days ‘arrive back in the oddest ways.’" (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (336 )
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4.1 (281 )
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Performance
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  •  
    M. Lewis Palo Alto, CA 03-30-15
    M. Lewis Palo Alto, CA 03-30-15 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Irish Lives Matter"

    Which seems to be major theme here. The small, quiet conversations, chores, choices and memories of 3 generations of a northern Irish family. Mostly about the women and how hard luck shaped all of their lives. I listened to the lovely Irish cadences of the narrator on a Long car ride and found this story surprisingly compelling and was sad to leave the characters behind when it ended. Loved the device of "what's in the secret letter" near the end and the realization that it wasn't the letter that mattered or brought any luck to Hannah but the people she met because of the letter who made the difference in her life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane F. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 02-04-15
    Diane F. Milwaukee, Wisconsin 02-04-15 Member Since 2007
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    3
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    Story
    ""Only connect . . ." So does McCann"

    Connect his characters tHat the reader is in awe.

    Be ready for some research to fully appreciate the fine weaving, the marvelous characters, the historic figures and events. Do keep a dictionary nearby for this author's range of words. Beautifully read with a natural Irish accent, lyrical, gentle, strong. Wonderful book for discussion of Story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Dunn Vancouver, BC Canada 12-05-14
    Andrew Dunn Vancouver, BC Canada 12-05-14 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent book, well read"

    Really enjoyed this one - McCann expertly weaves the historical narratives together into a seamless saga that keeps the reader interested throughout.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    susan Ann Arbor, MI, United States 08-27-14
    susan Ann Arbor, MI, United States 08-27-14 Member Since 2009
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    "Moments in history"

    This is a compelling, action packed book which highlights moments in history that stand as individual stories in their own right but are connected through their transatlantic history. Starting with the first plane flight from Canada to Ireland and concluding with George Mitchell and his work on the Irish peace process it is well written and fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    s Lincolnshire, IL, United States 01-23-14
    s Lincolnshire, IL, United States 01-23-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Pilot"
    Would you try another book from Colum McCann and/or Geraldine Hughes?

    No


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    I loved the first chapter. As pilot I believed this book was about flying and ....was surprised


    Any additional comments?

    The voice......horrid

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marsha Boulder, CO, United States 08-21-13
    Marsha Boulder, CO, United States 08-21-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent"
    If you could sum up TransAtlantic in three words, what would they be?

    Irish generational saga


    What other book might you compare TransAtlantic to and why?

    Colum McCann is a wonderful writer and the beautiful writing in TransAtlantic compares very well with his Let the Great World Spin. The opening chapter - the flight - is as poetic as DeLilllo's World Series baseball chapter in Underworld. As far as the story, it is similar to The Son by Phillip Meyers, which is a Texas generational saga. TransAtlantic is better.


    What about Geraldine Hughes’s performance did you like?

    Fabulous! A good reader can make the book even more enjoyable, and Ms. Hughes certainly did that for me.


    If you could take any character from TransAtlantic out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Lotte because of her interesting life.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Middleburg, VA, United States 09-02-13
    Linda Middleburg, VA, United States 09-02-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Get Depressed!"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    Different stories


    Would you ever listen to anything by Colum McCann again?

    Too Depressing


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Geraldine Hughes?

    Maybe


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Good prose/ language use


    Any additional comments?

    Had to abandon it in the third section, as the stories were just too depressing

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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