Call Number
Material Type
Elmira - Steele Memorial Library 1 FICTION Adult Fiction Book
Hammondsport - Fred and Harriett Taylor Memorial Library 1 FIC New books

On Order



From the author of Songdogs, a magnificent work of imagination and history set in the tunnels of New York City.

In the early years of the century, Nathan Walker leaves his native Georgia for New York City and the most dangerous job in America. A sandhog, he burrows beneath the East River, digging the tunnel that will carry trains from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Above ground, the sandhogs--black, white, Irish, Italian--keep their distance from each other until a spectacular accident welds a bond between Walker and his fellow diggers--a bond that will bless and curse the next three generations. Years later, Treefrog, a homeless man driven below by a shameful secret, ures a punishing winter in his subway nest. In tones ranging from bleak to disturbingly funny, Treefrog recounts his strategies of survival--killing rats, scavenging for discarded soda cans, washing in the snow. Between Nathan Walker and Treefrog stretch seventy years of ill-fated loves and uninted crimes. In a triumph of plotting, the two stories fuse to form a tale of family, race, and redemption that is as bold and fabulous as New York City itself. In This Side of Brightness, Colum McCann confirms his place in the front ranks of modern writers.

Author Notes

Irish writer Colum McCann was born near Dublin in 1965 and graduated from the University of Texas with a B.A. degree. He has worked as a newspaper journalist in Ireland and written several short stories and bestselling novels. The short film of Everything in this Country Must was nominated for an Academy Award in 2005.

McCann's work has appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, The Irish Times, La Repubblica, Die Zeit, Paris Match, the Guardian, and the Independent. He has won numerous awards, such as a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award, and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. In 2009 McCann was inducted into the Irish arts association Aosdana. He teaches in the Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing program at New York's Hunter College.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

It is 1916, and somewhere under the East River in New York, the sandhogs and other workers labor through mud and muck and darkness to build a transit system for a fledgling metropolis. The sandhogs, the men out front who burrow through the earth, are the physically strong and mentally tenacious among the working poor; many of them once labored in mines. The earth is close in life and death; but they take pride in their work, which allows them a livable wage at the cost of their health. On this side of brightness, it is anathema to play the petty game of race that sports itself on earth's surface. Nathan Walker, a young black from Georgia, handsome, well formed, and generous, who reminds one of Melville's lovely Billy Budd, comes to New York with love in his heart for his home near the Okefenokee swamp and will build a bond with his fellow sandhogs--two Irishmen, Conn O'Leary and Sean Power, and an Italian, Rudy "Rhubard" Vanucci. Their bond is cemented in a way they could not have dreamed of when a small hole in the tunnel wall results in a spectacular river blowout. The tragedy shapes Walker's life in a story that spans generations. McCann is a fine and bold writer, as his previous books prove (Songdogs, 1995, and Fishing the Sloe-Black River, 1996). So it's not surprising to find him tackling the peculiar, unexplored, and violent nexus between the downtrodden and persecuted Irish and African American in a flawed promise land; but one is jolted by the level of understanding he conveys about the needs and compunctions of human existence. --Bonnie Smothers

Library Journal Review

Called "New York's most visible up-and-coming Irish writer" by the New York Times, McCann skillfully evokes early 20th-century New York, where Irish mixed with African Americans and Italians to dig the tunnel under the East River. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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