Colum McCann | Photo: Mathrubhumi
Irish writer Colum McCann brings to MBIFL the magic of his most recent novel, ‘Apeirogon’, an international best-seller. It won several significant international awards including the Prix Montluc, the Elle Prize, the Jewish National Book Award in the United States, as well as being shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, the Orwell Prize, the Dalkey Book Prize, the German Peace Prize and the Greggor von Rezzori Prize.
McCann, born and raised in Dublin, is the author of seven novels, three collections of stories and two works of non-fiction. Named after a shape with an infinite number of sides, ‘Apeirogon’ is a bewitching blend of fact and fiction, a captivating tapestry of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its many strands, from Picasso’s working habits and the invention of rubber bullets to George Mitchell’s peace talks in Northern Ireland and the epistolary exchanges between Einstein and Freud.
The text is arranged in 1001 numbered sections, numbered 1-500, plus a bridging section, numbered 1001, and then sections numbered 500-1 — clearly intended to recall ‘One Thousand and One Nights’. Transcripts of interviews conducted by McCann with two men – Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli — form the core of the book. Bassam Aramin and Rami Elhanan were united in tragedy when Elhanan’s daughter, Smadar, was killed by a suicide bomber in 1997, and Aramin’s daughter, Abir, was shot by an Israeli soldier in 2007.
To cope with their shared agony, the two men turned to the Parents Circle Family Forum, a charity that seeks to bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians. Through their work with the organization, Aramin and Elhanan have become close, traveling the world and giving talks about their own experiences of loss, pain and healing. “I don’t have time for hate anymore,” McCann quotes Aramin. “We need to learn how to use our pain.”