Favourite books of Colum McCann

Colum McCann

Colum McCann is an Irish writer of literary fiction. He was born in Dublin, Ireland and now lives in New York.

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Favorite books of Colum McCann:

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng is a novel that takes place in Mississippi in 1927 -- you can feel the blues leaking out through the pages. An extraordinarily gifted young writer.

An epic odyssey in which a young man must choose between the lure of the future and the claims of the past With clouds looming ominously on the horizon, a group of children play among the roots of the gnarled Bone Tree. Their games will be interrupted by a merciless stormbringing with it the Great Flood of 1927but not before Robert Chatham shares his first kiss with the beautiful young Dora. The flood destroys their homes, disperses their families, and wrecks their innocence. But for Robert, a boy whose family has already survived unspeakable pain, that single kiss will sustain him for years to come. Losing virtually everything in the storm's aftermath, Robert embarks on a journey through the Mississippi hinterlandfrom a desperate refugee camp to the fiery brothel Hotel Beau-Miel and into the state's fearsome swamp, meeting piano-playing hustlers, well-intentioned whores, and a family of fierce and wild fur trappers along the way. But trouble follows close on his heels, fueling Robert's conviction that he's marked by the devil and nearly destroying his will to survive. And just when he seems to shake off his demons, he's forced to make an impossible choice that will test him as never before. Teeming with language that voices both the savage beauty and the complex humanity of the American South, Southern Cross the Dog is a tour de force of literary imagination that heralds the arrival of a major new voice in fiction.

This a novel about an elderly Iraqi Jewish immigrant and a 14 year-old pain addict, beautifully written and sharply felt, a lovesong to both American and Iraqi culture, a sharp political allegory, and a recipe for recovery.

Sassy, brash, acrobatic and colorful . . . I want to read it again and again. Time Impressive . . . Soffers style is natural and assured. Meg Wolitzer, All Things Considered, NPR Lorca spends her life poring over cookbooks to earn the love of her distracted mother, a chef, who is now packing her off to boarding school. Desperate to prove herself, Lorca resolves to track down the recipe for her mothers ideal meal. She signs up for cooking lessons from Victoria, an Iraqi-Jewish immigrant profoundly shaken by her husbands death. Soon these two women develop a deeper bond while their concoctionscardamom pistachio cookies, baklava, and masgoufbake in Victorias kitchen. But their individual endeavors force a reckoning with the past, the future, and the truthwhatever it might be. In Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots we see how food sustains not just our bodies, but our hopes as well. Bukra fil mish mish, the Arabic saying goes. Tomorrow, apricots may bloom. A profound and necessary new voice. Soffers prose is as controlled as it is fresh, as incisive as it is musical. Soffer has arrived early, with an orchestra of talent at her disposal. Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin Moving [and] extraordinary. Atlantic A work of beauty in words . . . Soffer is a master artist painting the hidden hues of the human soul. New York Journal of Books

High as the Horse's Bridle is a novel that will come out early next year by Scott Cheshire. It's an epic story that moves agilely back and forth through two hundred years of American history, a deep look at the country's psychoses and joys, moving from the revival tent meetings of Kentucky to the dark recesses of contemporary Queens, and ultimately a novel about fathers and sons.

A novel of inheritance, belief, and a dangerous prophecy follows Josiah Laudermilk, a former boy preaching prodigy, as he returns to Queens to care for his father and is overwhelmed by memories--both good and bad--at every turn.

Redeployment by Phil Klay

Colum McCann recommends Redeployment

One of the most anticipated books of the year will be the short story collection Redeployment by a former Marine, Phil Klay. From the very sentence -- "We shot dogs" -- to the final haunting images of the war, this is a book that lifts the balaclava off the war and shows us the human face underneath.

Also recommended by: Atul Gawande

Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post Book World, Amazon, and more Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remainsof U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming. Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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