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TransAtlantic (2013)

by Colum McCann

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,6901658,658 (3.99)347
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. Newfoundland, 1919: Aviators Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Dublin, 1845 and '46: On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause. New York, 1998: Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, to shepherd Northern Ireland's notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.… (more)
  1. 60
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Othemts)
  2. 52
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (suniru)
  3. 10
    A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle (Othemts)
  4. 10
    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. 00
    Voyage of Mercy: The USS Jamestown, the Irish Famine, and the Remarkable Story of America's First Humanitarian Mission by Stephen Puleo (Othemts)
    Othemts: Both books focus on the relationships between the US and Ireland, with the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland a key feature of each book.
  6. 00
    Everyone is Watching by Megan Bradbury (charl08)
  7. 14
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Othemts)
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» See also 347 mentions

English (162)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (165)
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
Great read. Cleverly done ( )
  Doondeck | Feb 7, 2022 |
So disappointing, especially after loving LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN. In this book every character's section was written with the same elegiac tone, which grew monotonous and tiresome. Couldn't even finish. ( )
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
I agree with the praise for McCann's poetic writing, but also with the criticism of his time (and setting) jumping as well as that this book might be most enjoyed by the Irish. The novel opens with a flight from Newfoundland to Ireland, covered by a mother and daughter as writer and photographer, respectively, who return much later. The book seemed to be about the disenfranchised: blacks in America (Frederick Douglass trip) and "northerners" in Ireland. At times, I could not figure out where the story was taking place. ( )
  skipstern | Jul 11, 2021 |
Three and a half. Liked the structure. Bit too slow and descripty for me. ( )
  MuggleBorn930 | Jul 11, 2021 |
TransAtlantic is possibly the best book I've ever read. It's flawlessly written and richly rooted in historical context, but also marks the most insightful portrayal of women's life experiences that I've ever seen from a male writer. McCann's words practically weep over the folly of war, violence, and the other products of mankind's baser instincts, but is also hopeful in a way that, for me, genuinely comforts. Towards the end of the book he writes, in Hannah's voice: "The world does not turn without small moments of grace. Who cares how small." Amen. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 162 (next | show all)
"But a book as ambitious and wide-ranging as this is bound to be a little inconsistent, and its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses."
added by bookfitz | editNew York Times, Erica Wagner (Jun 20, 2013)
 
"His new novel, TransAtlantic, likewise dramatises Irish-American encounters, and once again features elements of nonfiction, and a gravity-defying central metaphor."
added by bookfitz | editThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jun 1, 2013)
 
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)
 
"A masterful and profoundly moving novel that employs exquisite language to explore the limits of language and the tricks of memory."
added by bookfitz | editKirkus Reviews (Apr 15, 2013)
 

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Epigraph
No history is mute. No matter howmuch they own
it, break it, and lie about it, human history refuses to
shut its mouth. Despite deafness and ignorance, the
time that was continues to tick inside the time that is.

-Eduardo Galeano
Dedication
This novel is dedicated to Loretta Brennan Glucksman.
For Allison, and Isabella too.
And, of course, for Brendan Bourke.
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The cottage sat at the edge of the lough.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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. Newfoundland, 1919: Aviators Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown set course for Ireland as they attempt the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Dublin, 1845 and '46: On an international lecture tour in support of his subversive autobiography, Frederick Douglass finds the Irish people sympathetic to the abolitionist cause. New York, 1998: Leaving behind a young wife and newborn child, Senator George Mitchell departs for Belfast, to shepherd Northern Ireland's notoriously bitter and volatile peace talks to an uncertain conclusion. They each learn that even the most unassuming moments of grace have a way of rippling through time, space, and memory.

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Colum McCann's book TransAtlantic was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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

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