Colum McCann, an Irish novelist based in New York, has just won the world's richest literary award for his novel 'Let the Great World Spin.' He beat nine other nominees to become the second Irish author to win the €100,000 International Impac Dublin Literary Award, reports the Irish Times.

'Let the Great World Spin' uses French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s famous high-wire crossing between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in 1974 as a motif around which to assemble the stories of 10 New York characters, reads the Irish Times.

There was a documentary made about Petit and his death defying tight-rope walking missions called 'Man on Wire.' The documentary film 'Man on Wire' by UK director James Marsh, about Petit's 1974 WTC performance, won both the World Cinema Jury and Audience awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2008.

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The Impac award literary panel describe the book as "remarkable literary work," and just like the man on the wire, McCann has left his audience stunned and moved. “In the opening pages of Let The Great World Spin, the people of New York city stand breathless and overwhelmed as a great artist dazzles them in a realm that seemed impossible until that moment; Colum McCann does the same thing in this novel, leaving the reader just as stunned as the New Yorkers, just as moved and just as grateful,” the panel added, as read in the Irish Times.

The Dublin born writer has lived in the US since 1994.

Gabriel Byrne who is one of Ireland's most celebrated actors, as well as being Ireland's Cultural Ambassador, is a huge fan and friend of Colum McCann, and is sure to be just as overjoyed at McCann's success as everyone else. "I’m proud to say Colum’s a good friend of mine. He writes very simply, very powerfully, very beautifully. With each novel, you never know what world Colum’s going to enter into. “Dancer” was the reimagining of Russia in the early 20th century; he also wrote about a Romanian gypsy. This novel deals with 9/11 and the world of Philippe Petit, who walked between the World Trade towers."

The Irish Times adds, a total of ten novels were included on this year's shortlist including books from two other Irish authors. Colm Tóibín, winner in 2006 with The Master, was nominated again for Brooklyn,  while William Trevor was included for his 14th novel, Love and Summer.

This award is a Dublin City Council and Impac initiative. Impac is a productivity improvement firm, and their award prizes writers of fiction published in English.

Irish novelist John Byrne was amongst the panel, which was chaired by retired US judge, Hon Eugene R. Sullivan.

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