Author Colum McCann, Hunter College Distinguished Lecturer of Creative Writing, has won the coveted 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction from the Jewish Book Council. McCann earned the honor for his latest novel, Apeirogon, which has won universal critical acclaim for its originality and bravura literary style, as well as for its nuanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The New York Times called it “powerful and prismatic,” O hailed it as “virtuosic,” and the San Francisco Chronicle praised it as “dazzling and hypnotic.”
The Irish-born McCann joins a remarkable list of distinguished authors—including Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt, and Chaim Potok—who have won the National Jewish Book Award. Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab noted that Professor McCann is likely the only Jewish Book Award winner to have also won the Rooney Prize for Irish literature—“a true testament,” she added, “to a glowing international reputation that knows no borders.”
“We are honored to have accomplished educators like Colum McCann at Hunter College,” continued President Raab. “Colum not only offers a critical and dynamic perspective. He directly engages our students to explore their own creative journeys and tackle complex topics in their writing. We are extremely lucky to have him in our academic community and are thrilled that his contributions to the public are recognized by organizations beyond our own.”
Colum McCann is not the first Hunter College faculty member to receive a National Jewish Book Award. McCann follows Hunter College professor Emily Braun, recipient of the National Jewish Book Award in 2006 as co-author of The Power of Conversation: Jewish Women and their Salons. Additionally, Professor Leah Garrett, inaugural Director of the Hunter Center for Jewish Studies, was a finalist for the award in 2017 for her book Young Lions: How Jewish Authors Reinvented the American War Novel.