McCann Wins National Book Award

November 18, 2009 | 3 books mentioned 4

The National Book Award winners for 2009 have been announced. The big prize for fiction went to Colum McCann for Let the Great World Spin. McCann was the highest profile name among the nominees, and his book which revolves around Philippe Petit’s tightrope walk between World Trade Center towers in 1974, was generally seen as the favorite. More on the book: excerpt, review, Most Anticipated.

In this age of tycoons, fallen and otherwise, it is perhaps fitting that the non-fiction award went to The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T. J. Stiles (excerpt). The Poetry award was won by Keith Waldrop for Transcendental Studies: A Trilogy (excerpt [pdf]). The winner in the Young People’s Literature category was Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, a true story about a teenager who played a pivotal, but now forgotten role in the civil rights movement (excerpt).


Bonus Link: The 2009 nominees

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. I’ve got a question in regards to this book as it seems a lot like the documentary film Man On Wire, which I loved. Is the book different? I really don’t want to read a documentary I’ve already seen.

    Thanks to anybody that knows.


  2. It’s not at all the same as Man On Wire. The story takes place around the time of the tightrope walk, but Petit has a very minor role in the book.

  3. Thrilled with McCann’s win–I loved this book. I was very surprised that none of McCann’s wonderful books (Dancer is still my favorite) was anywhere on the radar when the Millions ran its “best of the century in fiction” series.

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