Originally broadcast at 1:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, August 24, 2021.
Irish-born international bestseller Colum McCann is among the world’s foremost storytellers and his fiction has been published in thirty-five languages. His National Book Award-winning novel Let the Great World Spin, an allegory of 9/11, was a bestseller on four continents and was recognized with major awards from eight nations. His follow-up, TransAtlantic, earned him comparisons to Michael Ondaatje and Toni Morrison. His newest, longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and Carnegie Medal, is Apeirogon, which takes as its fulcrum the real-life story of two fathers—one Palestinian, one Israeli—who have both lost daughters to the conflict in the Holy Land, and whose friendship and extraordinary stories of loss and joint work for reconciliation reverberate around the world. McCann remembers the napkin that said, “Harness the power of your grief.” It was given to him by these two fathers whose lives radically altered his own, and who became the central characters in Apeirogon, a term in geometry indicating an infinite polygon, with a countably infinite number of sides, an infinite dihedral group of symmetries. The book answers the question, “How do we continue to live after the most precious thing is lost?” Colum McCann is also a cofounder of the global charity Narrative 4 (https://narrative4.com/), which brings young people from around the globe together to “walk in one another’s shoes” and harness the power of story exchange to foster empathy. McCann’s writing has been published in The New Yorker, Esquire, The Paris Review, Granta, The Atlantic, GQ, Tin House, and The New York Times, among others. Born in Dublin and now living in New York, he teaches in the MFA program at Hunter College.
This program is made possible by the Deloras K. and L. Beaty Pemberton Lectureship.
About Chautauqua Institution: Chautauqua Institution is a community on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York state that comes alive each summer with a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship and programs, and recreational activities. As a community, we celebrate, encourage and study the arts and treat them as integral to all of learning, and we convene the critical conversations of the day to advance understanding through civil dialogue. CHQ Assembly is the online expression of Chautauqua Institution's mission.