Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

TransAtlantic (2013)

by Colum McCann

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
88213210,042 (4.13)265
  1. 52
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (suniru)
  2. 41
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Othemts)
  3. 10
    A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle (Othemts)
  4. 00
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (zhejw)
    zhejw: Both books explore human connections made across multiple generations and across oceans while ultimately concluding in Ireland.
  5. 14
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Othemts)

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 265 mentions

English (130)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (132)
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
I listened to this as an audiobook and really enjoyed it. The touching on the personal lives of historical figures intertwined with an Irish / American family really worked for me. It was fascinating. George Mitchell's ruminations on tea made me laugh out loud but it was also very sad in parts. ( )
  infjsarah | Sep 20, 2014 |
Irish historical fiction woven through the stories of 4 generations of women. Serendipitously read whilst visiting USA Civil War sites. Enjoyed the Frederick douglass section the most. Would make good book club discussion. ( )
  celerydog | Aug 8, 2014 |
Gorgeous writing, but the story kind of lost its oomph at the end. ( )
  eenerd | Jul 30, 2014 |
Disclosure: I'm Irish by heritage, if not by nationality.

I like how I just kept checking off the tags just now (culture, racism, war, etc.), but that's what this book is: Any story that begins with Frederick Douglass visiting Ireland in the 1840s, when the genocide of the potato famine was really starting to crank, is going to have all of these elements and more.

Chronologically, this story starts with Douglass in 1845, two aviators in 1919, and Sen. George Mitchell of Maine in 1998, each of whom crosses the Atlantic from America to Ireland. They are seeking continued freedom, fame and glory, and peace, respectively. The book begins with the 1919 thread, then jumps back to 1845, and then jumps forward to 1998. The rest of the book weaves in and out and around from these three points.

In addition, four generations of women appear at various points in the mens' stories, beginning with Lily Duggan, an Irish maid in the house where Douglass is visiting, and ending with Hannah in 2011. At first, and as usual, the men take center stage as they go about their important works. But then the women begin to emerge with their own stories, which are a much more thorough picture of the times they lived in.

The language is uniformly beautiful in this one. It can take awhile to get into McCann's sometimes telegraphic style, but it's worth it. He also uses the European style of indicating dialog with an em-dash instead of "quotes," until he switches in the very last chapter--interesting. The novel doesn't have a straight, linear, "this happened and then this happened" structure. It's better described as a collection of loosely connected vignettes.

I loved the historical aspects of this book--a black man visiting Ireland, ice farming in the U.S. Midwest, a field hospital in the Civil War, the peace process leading to the Good Friday Agreement (that aimed to end The Troubles-yeah, no), pictures of city and country life, etc. Where the book is less strong is in the interior lives of the characters. They aren't as deep as they could be. But I'm very glad I read it. Recommended for history, historical fiction, and language buffs. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I waited all too long to read Trans Atlantic, and when I finally did read it I realized why Colum McCann is so highly praised. His writing is lyrical, luminous, and somehow leaves spaces in all the right places. He's like Toni Morrison in his unerring ability to leave out what the reader doesn't need. The result is spare and nearly weightless prose that somehow manages to support all the big topics, like race, and gender, and love. Trans Atlantic is a deeply compassionate book that links separate stories that are tenuously connected across time and continents. The sections on Frederick Douglass and his stay in Ireland were the reason why I wanted to read the book in the first place, and they are beautifully done. But the book ends on a note of reconciliation I just couldn't have predicted. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. ( )
  bibliolisa | Jun 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Amazon Best Book of the Month, June 2013: McCann’s stunning sixth novel is a brilliant tribute to his loamy, lyrical and complicated Irish homeland, and an ode to the ties that, across time and space, bind Ireland and America. The book begins with three transatlantic crossings, each a novella within a novel: Frederick Douglas’s 1845 visit to Ireland; the 1919 flight of British aviators Alcock and Brown; and former US senator George Mitchell’s 1998 attempt to mediate peace in Northern Ireland. ... The language is lush, urgent, chiseled and precise; sometimes languid, sometimes kinetic. At times, it reads like poetry, or a dream. Choppy sentences. Two-word declaratives. Arranged into stunning, jagged tableaux. Bleak, yet hopeful. ... The finale is a melancholy set piece that ties it all together... McCann reminds us that life is hard, and it is a wonder, and there is hope. --Neal Thompson
added by JSWBooks | editAmazon.com, Neal Thompson (pay site) (Jun 1, 2013)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Geen enkele geschiedenis is sprakeloos.
Hoezeer ook geannexeerd, gebroken en belogen,
de menselijke geschiedenis weigert haar mond te houden.
Ondanks doofheid en onwetendheid blijft de tijd die was,
tikken binnen de tijd die is.

-Eduardo Galeano
First words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
De cottage stond aan de rand van het meer.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Publisher series
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

A tale spanning 150 years and two continents reimagines the peace efforts of democracy champion Frederick Douglass, Senator George Mitchell and World War I airmen John Alcock and Teddy Brown through the experiences of four generations of women from a matriarchal clan.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

LibraryThing Author

Colum McCann is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Author Chat

Colum McCann chatted with LibraryThing members from Mar 1, 2010 to Mar 14, 2010. Read the chat.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
6 pay7 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.13)
1 1
1.5 2
2 9
2.5 4
3 27
3.5 25
4 121
4.5 61
5 85


An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 94,038,186 books! | Top bar: Always visible