This morning we posted in the News section of our website that Colum McCann’s novel Let the Great World Spin won the National Book Award for fiction. We predicted that this title would be the winner, not least of all because of Robert Weibezahl’s rave review in our Well Read column – although McCann has long been a favorite of BookPage. If the National Book Award has piqued your interest in this talented novelist, you might enjoy some of his prior works, too.

Dancer, from 2002, is a “glittering biographical novel,” according to reviewer Julie Hale. McCann “tells the story of Rudolf Nureyev, one of the 20th century's greatest ballet dancers and an international star done in by his own decadent lifestyle.”

This Side of Brightness, a story about a man's struggle to raise a family in New York City, demonstrates McCann’s talent to create “lyrical prose that is both refined and urbane,” writes Charles Wyrick. “McCann addresses the big issues of race, love, and time with a literary majesty that completely befits the nature and scope of this family epic. His tone as novelist is a wonderful reminder of the self-assured poetics of his shorter fiction, yet now even more of a literary treat as he traces out his tale through the vicissitudes of time.”

Wyrick also praises McCann’s short story collection, Fishing the Sloe-Black River: “McCann is a master at making his language float about whatever subject or object he has chosen to describe. In his stories his vocabulary slips easily from the archaic to the profane, proving him to be much more than a literary stuffed shirt. McCann's strong knowledge of words is only out done by his even stronger sense of the way words sound. Whether expressing dialect or trying to evoke the emotion of a certain exchange, one cannot help but admire the way McCann's dialogues draw out sounds. The stories of Fishing the Sloe-Back River are a wonderful testament to a writer with an incredible ear for language.”

We also recommend that you check out Zoli, a novel about an exotic singer and poet. The story is based on a real-life Gypsy poet, and McCann enriches “that story with insightful and evocative prose,” writes Deborah Donovan. In Zoli, McCann creates “a vibrant character who is able to maintain her identity and proud heritage, even when abandoned by those she loves.”

Will you be reading any of these books? Also, what is your favorite novel by Colum McCann?

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