News that Colum McCann’s 10th novelhas made the Booker Prize longlist is a welcome lift and a timely reminder of the central role played by literature in recent months.
His book is based on the real-life friendship between two people who should be enemies — an Israeli and a Palestinian — but they are united in grief as both lost daughters in the region’s conflict.
The story of the deep humanity of these two men is, in the judges’ words, “a moving reflection on what it might mean to make peace between two warring sides”.
The friendship between Bassam and Rami shows that it is possible to turn grief into something hopeful and begin the long, messy process towards peace.
As the New York-based author has said, it is a universal story.
The Booker winner will not be announced until November but Colum McCann has already earned one distinction: as he said Tuesday, he might be the only novelist of the 13 on the list who can dial up his characters to tell them the good news.