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This Side of Brightness

Essays on the Fiction of Colum McCann


Edited By Susan Cahill and Eóin Flannery

Colum McCann is one of the most important Irish writers in contemporary literary fiction. His work has been critically acclaimed across the globe for its artistic achievement, its thematic range and its ethical force. This Side of Brightness: Essays on the Fiction of Colum McCann is the first collection of scholarly essays to deal with McCann’s œuvre, drawing on the pioneering critical work of some of the leading figures in Irish literary studies. Touching on a host of central themes in McCann’s writing – emigration, race, performance, poverty, travel, nationality and globalization – the volume covers each of McCann’s publications and includes a substantial interview with the author. The book is an invaluable resource for current and future scholars of the Irish novel.


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Anne Fogarty ‘An Instance of Concurrency’: Transnational Environments in Zoli and Let the Great Wor


Anne Fogarty ‘An Instance of Concurrency’: Transnational Environments in Zoli and Let the Great World Spin Colum McCann’s Songdogs culminates with a plangent but layered moment of epiphany in which Conor the protagonist arrives at an unanticipated understanding of the father from whom he remains estranged. In this final scene, his ailing but stubborn parent loses himself in the pleasure of fishing, an obdurate pastime he has pursued throughout his son’s return visit to Ireland. The sighting of a salmon in the polluted river which runs past the family home in Mayo yields a moment of ecstasy. The glimpse of this fish ‘contorted and unchoreographed in its spin’ allows for a rare, delicately poised and f leeting coming together of these two inveterately divided figures.1 The toxic landscape permits what the narrator elsewhere in the text dubs an ‘instance of concurrency’.2 The salmon acts as a cipher for Juanita, Conor’s missing mother, whom he persistently mourns and for whose disappearance he blames his father. The pleasure and pain that both men conjointly associate with this woman who at once cross-connects and separates them are inscribed in this evocative but polluted natural scene in West of Ireland which, moreover, resonates with the other haunting and resolutely non-picturesque outdoors spaces in Spain and in Mexico with which both men are intrinsically linked. Characteristically, insight is realized through a poetics of place that articulates itself through images of defilement and abjection rather than sentimental or romanticized visions of beauty. This essay sets out...

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