Colum McCann Interview: What Ulysses Did to Me

“The blood that moves through me right now is my great grandfathers blood, but the reason I know him, is because I read Ulysses” says Irish writer Colum McCann in this interview about James Joyce’s modernist novel.

McCann resisted reading Ulysses, and finally read it when he was very ill. In this interview he explains how Ulysses brought both him and his grandfather back to life: “My dead grandfather walked into the room and sat down on the hospital bed with me.” McCann praises Ulysses for being a funny and sexy example of what human existence can be – raw, alive, clever and beautiful.

“Literature allows us to become ourselves, by becoming someone else.” McCann says. He adds that the perfect date is taking a girl to a late night reading of ‘Ulysses’ and also points out how we should embrace the notion of difficulty: “Doing the tough thing in your life is the most perfect thing that you can do because you are stretching yourself and becoming bigger.”

Colum McCann (b 1965) was born in Dublin, Ireland and lives in New York. He is a Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing in the Master of Fine Arts program at Hunter College, New York and his work has been published in 35 languages. Colum McCann’s book ‘Let the Great World Spin’ won the National Book Award and sold a million copies. In 2013 McCann published the novel TransAtlantic, intertwining stories from Irish-American history with fictional narratives of several generations of women, spanning the course of two centuries.

Colum McCann was interviewed by Synne Rifbjerg at Louisiana Literature 2013

Edited by Kamilla Bruus

Produced by Christian Lund

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2014.

Supported by Nordea-fonden.


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