Here is the uncanny thing McCann finds again and again about the miraculous: That it is inseparable from the everyday. Tea is steeped, ham sandwiches wrapped up in wax paper and taken on the first trans-Atlantic flight. A senator may move mountains, but he also pauses to send his new wife e-mail about their newborn son.
History, this novel reminds, is not just what gets written about. It is the thin wire that threads between these two poles, the personal and the public, the mundane and the incredible. In “TransAtlantic,” Colum McCann walks across it as if falling weren’t an option.
John Freeman is the author of the forthcoming “How to Read a Novelist.”