Close cookie details

This site uses cookies. Learn more about cookies.

OverDrive would like to use cookies to store information on your computer to improve your user experience at our Website. One of the cookies we use is critical for certain aspects of the site to operate and has already been set. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but this could affect certain features or services of the site. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, click here to see our Privacy Policy.

If you do not wish to continue, please click here to exit this site.

Hide notification

  Main Nav

Let the Great World Spin

Cover of Let the Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin

A Novel
Borrow Borrow Borrow
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
  • Colum McCann's beloved novel inspired by Philippe Petit's daring high-wire stunt, which is also depicted in the film The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann's stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

    Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author's most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
    Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann's powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the "artistic crime of the century."
    A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a "fiercely original talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
    BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Colum McCann's TransAtlantic.

    "This is a gorgeous book, multilayered and deeply felt, and it's a damned lot of fun to read, too. Leave it to an Irishman to write one of the greatest-ever novels about New York. There's so much passion and humor and pure lifeforce on every page of Let the Great World Spin that you'll find yourself giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed."—Dave Eggers

    "Stunning . . . [an] elegiac glimpse of hope . . . It's a novel rooted firmly in time and place. It vividly captures New York at its worst and best. But it transcends all that. In the end, it's a novel about families—the ones we're born into and the ones we make for ourselves."USA Today
    "Mesmerizing . . . a Joycean look at the lives of New Yorkers changed by a single act on a single day . . . McCann's marvelously rich novel . . . weaves a portrait of a city and a moment, dizzyingly satisfying to read and difficult to put down."The Seattle Times
    "Vibrantly whole . . . With a series of spare, gorgeously wrought vignettes, Colum McCann brings 1970s New York to life. . . . And as always, McCann's heart-stoppingly simple descriptions wow."Entertainment Weekly
    "An act of pure bravado, dizzying proof that to keep your balance you need to know how to fall."O: The Oprah Magazine
  • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER
  • Colum McCann's beloved novel inspired by Philippe Petit's daring high-wire stunt, which is also depicted in the film The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt
    In the dawning light of a late-summer morning, the people of lower Manhattan stand hushed, staring up in disbelief at the Twin Towers. It is August 1974, and a mysterious tightrope walker is running, dancing, leaping between the towers, suspended a quarter mile above the ground. In the streets below, a slew of ordinary lives become extraordinary in bestselling novelist Colum McCann's stunningly intricate portrait of a city and its people.

    Let the Great World Spin is the critically acclaimed author's most ambitious novel yet: a dazzlingly rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s.
    Corrigan, a radical young Irish monk, struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the middle of the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gather in a Park Avenue apartment to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam, only to discover just how much divides them even in grief. A young artist finds herself at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. Tillie, a thirty-eight-year-old grandmother, turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter, determined not only to take care of her family but to prove her own worth. Elegantly weaving together these and other seemingly disparate lives, McCann's powerful allegory comes alive in the unforgettable voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the "artistic crime of the century."
    A sweeping and radical social novel, Let the Great World Spin captures the spirit of America in a time of transition, extraordinary promise, and, in hindsight, heartbreaking innocence. Hailed as a "fiercely original talent" (San Francisco Chronicle), award-winning novelist McCann has delivered a triumphantly American masterpiece that awakens in us a sense of what the novel can achieve, confront, and even heal.
    BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Colum McCann's TransAtlantic.

    "This is a gorgeous book, multilayered and deeply felt, and it's a damned lot of fun to read, too. Leave it to an Irishman to write one of the greatest-ever novels about New York. There's so much passion and humor and pure lifeforce on every page of Let the Great World Spin that you'll find yourself giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed."—Dave Eggers

    "Stunning . . . [an] elegiac glimpse of hope . . . It's a novel rooted firmly in time and place. It vividly captures New York at its worst and best. But it transcends all that. In the end, it's a novel about families—the ones we're born into and the ones we make for ourselves."USA Today
    "Mesmerizing . . . a Joycean look at the lives of New Yorkers changed by a single act on a single day . . . McCann's marvelously rich novel . . . weaves a portrait of a city and a moment, dizzyingly satisfying to read and difficult to put down."The Seattle Times
    "Vibrantly whole . . . With a series of spare, gorgeously wrought vignettes, Colum McCann brings 1970s New York to life. . . . And as always, McCann's heart-stoppingly simple descriptions wow."Entertainment Weekly
    "An act of pure bravado, dizzying proof that to keep your balance you need to know how to fall."O: The Oprah Magazine
  • Available formats-
    • Kindle Book
    • OverDrive Read
    • eNYPL EPUB eBook
    Languages:-
    Copies-
    • Available:
      15
    • Library copies:
      27
    Levels-
    • ATOS:
    • Lexile:
    • Interest Level:
    • Text Difficulty:

    Recommended for you


     
    Awards-
    Excerpts-
    • From the book

      Those who saw him hushed. On Church Street. Liberty. Cortlandt. West Street. Fulton. Vesey. It was a silence that heard itself, awful and beautiful. Some thought at first that it must have been a trick of the light, something to do with the weather, an accident of shadowfall. Others figured it might be the perfect city joke--stand around and point upward, until people gathered, tilted their heads, nodded, affirmed, until all were staring upward at nothing at all, like waiting for the end of a Lenny Bruce gag. But the longer they watched, the surer they were. He stood at the very edge of the building, shaped dark against the gray of the morning. A window washer maybe. Or a construction worker. Or a jumper.Up there, at the height of a hundred and ten stories, utterly still, a dark toy against the cloudy sky.

      He could only be seen at certain angles so that the watchers had to pause at street corners, find a gap between buildings, or meander from the shadows to get a view unobstructed by cornicework, gargoyles, balustrades, roof edges. None of them had yet made sense of the line strung at his feet from one tower to the other. Rather, it was the manshape that held them there, their necks craned, torn between the promise of doom and the disappointment of the ordinary. It was the dilemma of the watchers: they didn't want to wait around for nothing at all, some idiot standing on the precipice of the towers, but they didn't want to miss the moment either, if he slipped, or got arrested, or dove, arms stretched.

      Around the watchers, the city still made its everyday noises. Car horns. Garbage trucks. Ferry whistles. The thrum of the subway. The M22 bus pulled in against the sidewalk, braked, sighed down into a pothole. A flying chocolate wrapper touched against a fire hydrant. Taxi doors slammed. Bits of trash sparred in the darkest reaches of the alleyways. Sneakers found their sweetspots. The leather of briefcases rubbed against trouserlegs. A few umbrella tips clinked against the pavement. Revolving doors pushed quarters of conversation out into the street. But the watchers could have taken all the sounds and smashed them down into a single noise and still they wouldn't have heard much at all: even when they cursed, it was done quietly, reverently. They found themselves in small groups together beside the traffic lights on the corner of Church and Dey; gathered under the awning of Sam's barbershop; in the doorway of Charlie's Audio; a tight little theater of men and women against the railings of St. Paul's Chapel; elbowing for space at the windows of the Woolworth Building. Lawyers. Elevator operators. Doctors. Cleaners. Prep chefs. Diamond merchants. Fish sellers.

      Sad- jeaned whores. All of them reassured by the presence of one another.

      Stenographers. Traders. Deliveryboys. Sandwichboard men. Cardsharks. Con Ed. Ma Bell. Wall Street. A locksmith in his van on the corner of Dey and Broadway. A bike messenger lounging against a lamppost on West. A red- faced rummy out looking for an early- morning pour. From the Staten Island Ferry they glimpsed him. From the meatpacking warehouses on the West Side. From the new high- rises in Battery Park. From the breakfast carts down on Broadway. From the plaza below. From the towers themselves.

      Sure, there were some who ignored the fuss, who didn't want to be bothered. It was seven forty- seven in the morning and they were too jacked up for anything but a desk, a pen, a telephone. Up they came from the subway stations, from limousines, off city buses, crossing the street at a clip, refusing the prospect of a gawk. Another day, another dolor. But as they passed the little clumps of commotion they...

    About the Author-
    • Colum McCann is the internationally bestselling author of the novels TransAtlantic, Let the Great World Spin, Zoli, Dancer, This Side of Brightness, and Songdogs, as well as two critically acclaimed story collections. His fiction has been published in thirty-five languages. He has received many honors, including the National Book Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres award from the French government, and the Ireland Fund of Monaco Literary Award in Memory of Princess Grace. He has been named one of Esquire's "Best and Brightest," and his short film Everything in This Country Must was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. A contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review, he teaches in the Hunter College MFA Creative Writing program. He lives in New York City with his wife and their three children, and he is the cofounder of the global nonprofit story exchange organization, Narrative 4.

    Reviews-
    • Richard Price, author of Lush Life "With Philippe Petit's breathless 1974 tightrope walk between the uncompleted WTC towers at its axis, Colum McCann offers us a lyrical cycloramic high-low portrait of New York City in its days of burning; Park Avenue matrons, Bronx junkies, Center Street judges, downtown artists and their uptown subway-tagging brethren, street priests, weary cops, wearier hookers, grieving mothers of an Asian war freshly put to bed; a masterful chorus of voices all obliviously connected by the most ephemeral vision; a pin-dot of a man walking on air 110 stories above their heads."
    Title Information+
    • Publisher
      Random House Publishing Group
    • Kindle Book
      Release date:
    • OverDrive Read
      Release date:
    • eNYPL EPUB eBook
      Release date:
    Digital Rights Information+
    • Copyright Protection (DRM) required by the Publisher may be applied to this title to limit or prohibit printing or copying. File sharing or redistribution is prohibited. Your rights to access this material expire at the end of the lending period. Please see Important Notice about Copyrighted Materials for terms applicable to this content.

    Status bar:

    You've reached your checkout limit.

    Visit your Checkouts page to manage your titles.

    You already have this title checked out.

    Want to go to your Checkouts?

    Recommendation Limit Reached.

    You've reached the maximum number of titles you can recommend at this time. You can recommend up to 2 titles every 1 day(s).

    Sign in to recommend this title.

    Recommend your library consider adding this title to the Digital Collection.

    Enhanced Details

    Limited availability

    Availability can change throughout the month based on the library's budget.

    is available for days.

    Once playback starts, you have hours to view the title.

    Permissions

    The OverDrive Read format of this eBook has professional narration that plays while you read in your browser. Learn more here.

    Holds

    Total holds:


    You've reached your library's checkout limit for digital titles.

    To make room for more checkouts, you may be able to return titles from your Checkouts page.

    Excessive Checkout Limit Reached.

    There have been too many titles checked out and returned by your account within a short period of time.

    Try again in several days. If you are still not able to check out titles after 7 days, please contact Support.

    You have already checked out this title. To access it, return to your Checkouts page.

    This title is not available for your card type. If you think this is an error contact support.

    An unexpected error has occurred.

    If this problem persists, please contact support.

    NOTE: Barnes and Noble® may change this list of devices at any time.

    Buy it now
    and help our library WIN!
    Let the Great World Spin
    Let the Great World Spin
    A Novel
    Colum McCann
    Choose a retail partner below to buy this title for yourself.
    A portion of this purchase goes to support your library.
    Clicking on the 'Buy It Now' link will cause you to leave the library download platform website. The content of the retail website is not controlled by the library. Please be aware that the website does not have the same privacy policy as the library or its service providers.

    There are no copies of this issue left to borrow. Please try to borrow this title again when a new issue is released.

    Barnes & Noble Sign In |   Sign In

    You will be prompted to sign into your library account on the next page.

    If this is your first time selecting “Send to NOOK,” you will then be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

    The first time you select “Send to NOOK,” you will be taken to a Barnes & Noble page to sign into (or create) your NOOK account. You should only have to sign into your NOOK account once to link it to your library account. After this one-time step, periodicals will be automatically sent to your NOOK account when you select "Send to NOOK."

    You can read periodicals on any NOOK tablet or in the free NOOK reading app for iOS, Android or Windows 8.