Let the Great World Spin (by Colum McCann: Adult Fiction) © 2009

Rating: 4/5

Summary: Let the Great World Spin revolves around the lives of eleven very different, yet ordinary individuals living in New York City during 1970s. Despite the enormity of the city, the reader comes to the realization that “…everything in New York is built upon another thing, nothing is entirely by itself, each thing as strange as the last, and connected.” The characters of this novel and their individual stories are linked together by a marvelous high-wire act; the day where bound together by grief, they learn to transcend between loss and love.

Review: McCann, an Irish native, has gained popularity as an author in the United States over the last decade. He has written nine novels. In his last two novels, Let the Great world Spin and Transatlantic, each individual novel is comprised of a series of individual stories intricately connected to one another. I must admit, after reading the first two chapters of this book, I thought perhaps I had picked up a book of short stories rather than a novel. However, once I realized that McCann was using this literary technique to weave the threads of each story into one novel, I soon looked forward to discovering how events and characters were connected to one another. In this novel as well as Transatlantic, the reader comes to realize that in spite of social, cultural, and political barriers, people of seemingly disparate lives become entwined by the hope and promise of the seemingly impossible.  Let the Great World Spin is a moving story that reminds the reader that every step requires balance to conquer life’s challenges.

Read-a-likes: If you enjoyed McCann’s writing style, story, and setting in Let the Great World Spin, you may enjoy these titles: Transatlantic by McCann, American Rust by Phillip Meyer, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout  and A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Eagan. As a follow-up to the novel, I’d recommend readers request the movie, Man on Wire, through interlibrary loan and witness how the illicit, 1974 high-wire walk ties these stories together. 

Availability: This novel is available through the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book and an eBook.

Reviewed by: Valerie


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