I am very honored and pleased to have my first collaboration with Colum McCann. Colum was both the first writer I approached, and the first to respond with an idea. This collaboration epitomizes the spirit of this project because Colum is someone I have wanted to work with for years and now I get my wish.
There isn’t much I can say about his work that hasn’t been better stated by a legion of reviewers, writers, and readers. His prose is unquestionably beautiful, and poetic, and he has used his considerable skills to explore a wide range of ideas, places, and lives. McCann’s hypothetical proposal “In The Country Below” would be just that kind of book, if it were actually going to be a book
It's at this point I would like to make clear that this is not Colum's next book. In The Country Below will never be in stores, or on Amazon, there will be no book tours. It will in fact never be written. This is purely a “what if” experiment. Those of us who are fans of Colum, will just have to wait patiently for that next book.
In The Country Below—the hypothetical flap copy
“In the 17th Century vast numbers of Irish men, women and children were forcibly transported to the American colonies by the British government. In this spectacular reinvention and examination of history, Colum McCann goes to the heart one of the great untold stories of our times as he follows a group of Irish indentured servants on their voyage to the West Indies, their plight on the Atlantic seas, their subsequent serfdom and their eventual liberation on the wave of a bloody revolution. This is a gripping portrayal of another century, another continent, another loss, told in McCann’s unique trademark prose, simultaneously stripped down and lyrical.”
Colum is the author of two collections of short stories and five novels; Fishing the Sloe-Black River—Stories, Songdogs, This Side of Brightness, Everything in This Country Must A Novella and Two Stories, Dancer, Zoli, and Let The Great World Spin for which Colum was awarded the 2009 National Book Award.
His fiction has been published in 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review, Bomb and many other places. He also teaches in the Creative Writing program at Hunter College. For a more comprehensive listing of Colum’s work and accomplishments I encourage you to visit his web site www.colummccann.com
Next week: David Lehman