McCann Wins IMPAC

Dublin-born author Colum McCann has won the €100,000 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his sixth novel, Let the Great World Spin. According to the judges' citation, the novel, set in Manhattan (where the author now lives) in 1974, “explores the lives of its multiple participants, from the grieving housewife to the addicted artist, the unconventional cleric to the prostitute brought low by the law, through different and challenging forms of language, bringing each one to life in sometimes broken, sometimes elegant dialect.”

The win further entrenches the rise and rise of the multiple-point-of-view narrative mode. In recent years, accomplished novels such as Roberto Bolano’s Savage Detectives, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap, Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Jenny Erpenbeck’s Visitation and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, among others, seem to have burst the potential of the novel wide open. It’s not a new form: James Joyce’s Ulysses does it to some degree, and William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is a polished diamond of the form. It remains to be seen whether the multiple-point-of-view novel is a passing trend or whether it signals a fundamental change in a literary form that for half a millennium has been individualism’s most powerful voice. If so, it would beg an even more intriguing - and perhaps unanswerable - question: is the age of individualised subjectivity coming to an end?

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