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Novelist Colum McCann to Address Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar at W&L

Colum McCann, the winner of the 2009 National Book Award, will present the keynote address, “The Art of Knowing the World,” at Washington and Lee University’s Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar on Friday, March 30, at 4 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

The theme for this year’s Wolfe Seminar is “Knowing the World Through the Art of Fiction.” The keynote address is open to the public without registration for the seminar.

McCann is the award-winning author of five novels and two collections of short stories. His most recent novel, “Let the Great World Spin,” won worldwide acclaim, including the 2009 National Book Award in the U.S, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, a short-listing for the International Impac Award, as well as a 2011 literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. “Let the Great World Spin” became a best-seller on four continents. J.J Abrams, the acclaimed director and creator of the TV series “Lost,” bought the film rights, and McCann is currently adapting the screenplay along with Abrams.

McCann’s fiction has been published in 30 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Bomb and other publications. He has written for The New York Times, the Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, the Guardian, the Times and the Independent.  He received received a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2010.

Born in Ireland, McCann is considered, in every sense, an international artist.  He has travelled extensively around the world.  He and his wife, Allison, lived in Japan for two years.  He currently lives in New York City, where he holds dual Irish and American citizenship.

The topics of McCann’s work have ranged from homeless people in the subway tunnels of New York, to the troubles in Northern Ireland, to the effects of 9/11, to a poetic examination of the life and culture of the Roma in Europe. McCann is known as a poetic realist, a writer who is known to tackle the dark in order to get through to the light.

“I believe in the democracy of story-telling,” McCann has said in an interview. “I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries.  I feel humbled by the notion that I’m even a small part of the literary experience.  I grew up in a house, in a city, in a country shaped by books. I don’t know of a greater privilege than being allowed to tell a story, or to listen to a story.  They’re the only thing we have that can trump life itself.”

The annual Tom Wolfe Weekend Seminar is sponsored by Washington and Lee’s Class of 1951 in honor of its classmate Tom Wolfe, who will be in attendance and will offer remarks during the weekend.

In addition to the keynote address on March 30, the seminar includes several panels led by Washington and Lee faculty members Marc Conner and Jonathan Eastwood on Saturday, March 31. Those presentations are open to members of the University community, while others may register for the event by contacting the Office of Special Programs at (540) 458-8723. Additional details are available at http://www.wlu.edu/x56441.xml.

News Contact:
Jeffery G. Hanna
Executive Director of Communications and Public Affairs
(540) 458-8459