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TransAtlantic tells the story of four generations of women. Spanning the onset of the Irish potato famine in 1845, the American Civil War and the more recent troubles in Northern Ireland, it is an epic and engrossing story of slavery, poverty, struggle and survival.
1919. Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of World War One to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. Among the mail being carried on the aircraft is a letter which Emily’s mother, Lily, wrote when she first left Ireland in 1845. The letter will not be opened for almost one hundred years.
1845. Lily Duggans is just seventeen years old and living as a maid when Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling at his feet. On his travels he inspires Lily to go to New York and embrace a free world, but the land does not always fulfill its promises for her. From the violent battlefields of the Civil War to the ice lakes of northern Missouri, it is her youngest daughter Emily who eventually finds her way back to Ireland.
1998. Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. How many more bereaved mothers must he meet before an agreement can be reached? 
Can we cross from the new world to the old? How does the past shape the future? In TRANSATLANTIC, Colum McCann has achieved an outstanding act of literary bravura. Intricately crafted, poetic and deeply affecting it weaves together personal stories to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.

About the Author

Colum McCann

Colum McCann was born in Ireland in 1965. He lives in New York with his wife and their three children. He teaches at the MFA program in Hunter College.


He is the author of six novels and two collections of stories. He has been the recipient of many international honours, including the National Book Award, the International Dublin Impac Prize, a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government, election to the Irish arts academy, several European awards, the 2010 Best Foreign Novel Award in China, and an Oscar nomination. His latest novel, Transatlantic (2013), has been longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.


His work has been published in over 35 languages.