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
9091379,684 ()281
  1. 51
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Othemts)
  2. 52
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (suniru)
  3. 10
    A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle (Othemts)
  4. 00
    The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell (zhejw)
    zhejw: Both books explore human connections made across multiple generations and across oceans while ultimately concluding in Ireland.
  5. 15
    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 281 mentions

English (134)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (136)
Showing 1-5 of 134 (next | show all)
The Short of It:

Non-fiction elements mingle with fiction in this Irish-American tale which begins in 1919 with the first nonstop transatlantic flight.

The Rest of It:

If you’ve read McCann’s work before, you may recognize the format of this novel, which feels like a collection of interconnected stories. The story opens with Alcock and Brown’s first transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to County Galway. Their mission is riddled with challenges, of which, eventually lead to a crash landing. From the title, you’d think that the book is about this trip alone but no, after just a short section on the flight itself, McCann moves on with his story which focuses on Frederick Douglass’s visit to Ireland just as the Great Famine begins to fully take its hold. From there, we meet Lily Duggan, a maid who is inspired to create a new life for herself in America.

This story spans many years and goes back and forth as it’s told and I know for some, including myself, this doesn’t always work for me. In fact, as soon as I realized I’d be jumping back and forth in time, I audibly groaned. But honestly, McCann’s handles it so well, that it never seemed to bother me at all and his style of writing, which consists of short, clipped, sentences made the reading experience quite a pleasant one. His writing creates a sense of urgency which gives the story that “unputdownable” quality that so many of us look for in a book.

There’s a little bit of history, which prompted many in my book club to look up additional information and the fictional parts were well-done and engaging. I read it in just one sitting, which is not something I often do but the story is constructed in such a way that it’s hard to find a good place to set the book down. A good problem to have, if you ask me.

Have you read Transatlantic? It came out some time ago and I immediately added it to my Kindle after reading Let The Great World Spin, but for some reason it just sat there, unread. Such a shame because I really enjoyed it.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jan 22, 2015 |
Colum McCann is a consummate stylist. Of that, there’s little doubt. But he sometimes paints with prose the way a pointillist paints with oils – and this style can be exhausting if ingested in large chunks. When you come away from one of his portraits, you’re left with a distinct image of the character he’s describing – perhaps in exactly the same way you’re left with a distinct image after studying a pointillist’s painting up close and over a long period of time. You’re also exhausted.

Sentences are often short. Punctuation, sparse. Like this. With no waste of words. But sometimes, abrupt. Truncated – and idiosyncratically so. Not to mention dense.

And speaking of a “tangled skein of connections” (p. 260), the connective tissue between these chapters and books (since the novel is divided into three of the latter) is, at times, a tad difficult to decipher, given the apparent nonlinearity of the novel itself. A graphic family tree spanning the several generations might’ve helped me in my understanding of the various stories and their interconnectedness.

As for the occasional Oops! … we find on pp. 25 – 26 “(i)t is one of the many things that brings (sic!) a smile to Alcock’s lips…”. Then, on p. 252, “(t)here is no seal, no insignias, no discernible shape to what may lay (sic!) inside.” And am I wrong in suggesting that “him” is the wrong case in “(s)he used to say that she was younger than him…” on p. 261 and elsewhere in the book?

But for a larger critique – and I offer this one of an author as accomplished as Colum McCann clearly is with a great deal of hesitation – it seemed to me that there was often a tad too much ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing.’ I’d like to think this impression was largely a function of my own faulty concentration rather than any shortcoming on McCann’s part – but for the time being, and until I read another one of his books, I’ll let it stand.

What I will say in favor of this novel is that McCann captures the peculiar sadness of the ‘Irish story’ perfectly and without that blast of pyrotechnics, sentimentality or even kitsch that too often colors everything from the Great Famine to the Troubles -- and right up through those present St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Boston and New York that seem to drown in green beer, drunken antics and self-pity. For this, I’m even willing to overlook his one mention of ‘the gloaming.’

I’m sorry I can’t conjure up as much enthusiasm for TransAtlantic as I did for Let the Great World Spin, but we can’t all hit the bull’s eye all of the time. And maybe, just maybe, McCann's target was too refined for my once-sturdier powers of discernment, now in a state of inexorable atrophy.

On a parting note, I must say that a couple (Aoibheann and David Manyaki) introduced only at the very tail-end of the book is one of the most delightful I’ve ever found in literature – and that it's worth the whole ‘cost’ of the book just to meet them. While they may never be as memorable as some of Dickens’s more notable characters, they’re anything but caricaturesque. In fact, they’re very real. And present. And recognizable, however idealized.

Brooklyn, NY

( )
  RussellBittner | Dec 12, 2014 |
McCann's short rhythmic sentences are mesmerizing; as if there is an invisible metronome alongside, clicking, keeping time. Not to everyone's taste, but after a couple of futile attempts to ignore the metronome I got used to it. Eventually I realized the measured tempo added to the story in some places.

Having originated in Northern Ireland, the chapter describing Senator George Mitchell's participation in the Northern Ireland peace talks was of particular interest to me. The task must have been difficult to the point of being virtually unattainable. He was obviously the perfect choice for the job.

The combination of history, biography, location and storytelling, makes for a clever, entertaining, and impressively interesting read. ( )
  VivienneR | Dec 10, 2014 |
This is my second novel by Colum McCann -- the other was This Side of Brightness -- and he is certainly one of the best writers and story-tellers I've read in a while.

This story is based on three historical events: Frederick Douglass's visit to Ireland; the first transatlantic flight by Alcock and Brown; and Senator Mitchell's attempts to broker peace in modern-day Ireland. Along with these great moments of history and the men who made them, we see the story of four generations of women. McCann has given us history in the grand sense, and the history of ordinary people (women). This is the story of the ability of women to carry on; the story of the impact history has on all of us.

The end of the book is about Hannah, the last in the generation of women who have interacted -- sometimes profoundly, sometimes tangentially -- with the great men of the book. To me, Hannah was not as compelling a character as some of her ancestors, so the book dragged a bit for me at the end, but overall, I really enjoyed it. ( )
  LynnB | Nov 28, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 134 (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 your language.
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 your language.
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 your language.
Publisher series
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.

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: (4.12)
1 1
1.5 2
2 10
2.5 5
3 29
3.5 25
4 127
4.5 62
5 86


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 | 95,705,868 books! | Top bar: Always visible