Colum McCann on Cultural Appropriation

Apeirogon author Colum McCann on cultural appropriation versus celebration

The National Book Award winner offers thoughtful insights on writing in the wake of the American Dirt controversy.

By Seija Rankin

Colum McCann has made a career out of weaving fascinating, and at times surreal, real-life stories into his novels. Take for example his 2009 behemoth Let the Great World Spin, which won the National Book Award and put him over the edge of household-name author status: The book uses Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the Twin Towers to explore the many overlapping lives of New York and, ultimately, grapple with the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

His newest novel, Apeirogon, uses the same basic fiction-nonfiction concept with a fresh motive that’s apparent from the get-go. McCann was inspired by the friendship between Rami Elhanan, an Israeli, and Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, living on opposite sides of the wall in Jerusalem. The two became friends through the group Combatants for Peace — Aramin founded the organization after a seven-year stint in an Israeli jail and Elhanan joined after his 13-year-old daughter, Smadar, was killed in a suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Read the full interview at Entertainment Weekly.

We would love for you to join us for our virtual Books & Bathrobes event with Colum McCann on Monday, April 13! For ticket information, visit our event page. Additionally, you can find his latest novel Apeirogon among our current Books in the Bag book club selections. To read more about the book — and to see our other picks — visit our Books in the Bag page.

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