Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann, was published in 2009 by Random House. The novel has also been touted as an allegory of the events of 9/11. It is a novel about life and death, love and grief, and hope. Taking place in New York City in 1974, on the day that Philippe Petit walked on a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers, the story merges the lives and losses of seemingly unrelated people. The chapters tell the stories of different characters; some related to each other some closely, some remotely. They are all somehow touched by the events taking place in the 110th floor of the two towers.
Two young men from Ireland have moved to New York City. One is Corrigan, a monk on a religious mission, has lived in the Bronx for a number of years. He spends his days between a nursing home and looking after the prostitutes in his neighborhood. His brother Carian has just recently arrived; he is trying to make sense of his brother’s life and his own.
Claire and Solomon live on Park Avenue; they have lost their son to the Vietnam War. Claire seeks solace in a support group, and Solomon hides his pain by immersing himself in his judicial career. Gloria is a member of Claire’s group and lives in the same building in the Bronx as Corrigan. She finds her own life touched by the prostitutes on her street.
A young artistic couple, Blaine and Lara, have tried to escape a past filled with drugs and alcohol by moving to the peaceful country. The city draws them back for one night and the following morning, one fateful moment intersects their lives with those of Corrigan, Ciaran, Gloria, and the prostitutes Tillie and Jazzlyn.
The novel closes twenty-two years later with a glimpse into the past, while Jaslyn – the daughter of one of the prostitutes, comes to terms with her past and accepts the future enfolding before her. This is a story about embracing the grief that brings people together and the hope that propels them forward.
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