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Everything in This Country Must

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  637 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
In his fourth book, Colum McCann turns to the "troubles" in Northern Ireland and reveals the reverberations of political tragedy in the most intimate lives of men and women, parents and children. In the title story, a teenage girl must choose between allegiance to her Catholic father and gratitude to the British soldiers who have saved the family's horse. The young hero of
Paperback, 160 pages
Published March 7th 2001 by Picador (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

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Oct 29, 2015 Chrissie rated it really liked it
"Everything In This Country Must" is quite simply too short.

The title story only lasts 23 minutes. I am listening to the audiobook performance. Yes, it feels like a performance, not the reading of a story! The narration by Clodagh Bowyer, in her young feminine Irish patois, was fantastic. The book’s narrator is a fifteen year old. Her perception of the event is that of a young Catholic Irish girl. She saw the body of the male swimmer. That is what she would see. She saw the agony and frustratio
Tanuj Solanki
Two stories and a novella.

The novella is an absolute stunner, a thing of beauty, and ranks as one if the very best pieces I have had the fortune to read. Think of McCann as Joyce mixed with Hemingway, although this is a stupid way of putting things. But if you liked Old Man and the Sea, you will love this.

All three works have an adolescent protagonist. McCann really captures this age of flux perfectly, and in a serious tone. This is quite unlike what others, say David Mitchell, do with their a
Richard Derus
Oct 26, 2011 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
Okay, so, see, there's this place called Ireland? And it's really poor? Or, well, anyway, it used to be and stuff. So anyway, this Irish guy comes here, I mean to America, and he writes about these Irish people from when it was all poor and stuff? And so these stories are, like, really really sad and the people are all poor and kinda mean and they don't seem like they ever smile or anything? But they're all, like, really really trying to be good but something Irish just won't let em! Honest!

If "
Diane S ☔
Mar 18, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
Almost everyone I know has read, and said good things, about this author. I decided to start with a book of smaller stories of his and than go from there. I loved them. I loved his writing, simple yet elegant he presents the reader with wonderful and uncluttered visuals. All these stories take place and are said to represent all side of Northern Ireland. The first short story shows us a young girl, not understanding her father's politics. The second story, which was my favorite although the firs ...more
Laurie Notaro
Apr 28, 2016 Laurie Notaro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brutal, sparse and a straight shot to the bone; McCann pulls no punches. In two short stories and one novella, we see how the unrest in Ireland in the 80's and 90's was like any other horrific war; it sunk into the core of its people, where it stayed and turned to concrete. McCann is unflinching when it comes to his descriptions of how it fundamentally changed people, and the undeniable outcomes that are stark, stripped and tragic. Quick read, but not quickly absorbed. This one will take a while ...more
Mar 08, 2015 Mom rated it really liked it
A quiet and powerful trio of stories set in Northern Ireland during the years of political turmoil. In each, the center of the story is not the turmoil but the individuals living in that environment and the emotional tension they endure. Written with delicacy and restraint, there is little sense of us/them, but rather an emphasis on the humanity of everyone involved. My favorite story was "Hunger Strike," a bittersweet and heartbreaking tale of a boy's coming-of-age while remembering his decease ...more
Jul 10, 2010 Zoë rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Everything in This Country Must is a small collection by Colum McCann which includes two short stories and one novella. The book begins with the title story "Everything in This Country Must" which is the story of a father and daughter whose lives have been ruined by the death of the mother and daughter at the hands of soldiers. However when their best draft horse is about to drown it is soldiers which come to help them pull it out of the water, something the father is unable to make peace with. ...more
Apr 11, 2011 Erin rated it really liked it
This is my first Colum McCann book. After reading this one, I will definitely read more. His writing, while spare, considered and focused, was almost lyrical in its use of language, and drove me to re-read many sentences I found particularly lovely. As an example, I quote this from the first story in the book (**potential spoiler**):

"The ticking was gone from my mind and all was quiet everywhere in the world and I held the curtain like I held the sound of the bullets going into the draft horse,
Tim Love
Apr 18, 2016 Tim Love rated it liked it
2 short stories and a novella, all having a youth as the main character, whose same-sex parent is dead or invalided. They all feature "The Troubles". The short stories feature a first-person youth. Katie in the title piece is 15. She says things like "I stretched wide like love", and "The night had started stars. They were up through the branches. The river was spraying in them". The son in "Wood" doesn't yet shave. He begins by saying "It was just past night-time when we brought the logs down t ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Eric rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 13, 2012 Ferris rated it really liked it
Audiobook............Listening to Colum McCann's prose is like listening to poetry, regardless of the subject matter. He is an excellent writer! This is the first time I have read his writing in the shorter format of novella and short stories, and I think he is masterful at it. All I will say, is settle back in a comfy chair with a beautiful view and listen. You will be carried away to the tough and demanding world of Ireland and its day-to-day realities. It's worth the time!
Beth F.
May 09, 2015 Beth F. rated it it was amazing
Another brilliantly written book by Colum McCann. His prose is amazing and there are so many phrases I want to hold on to and turn over in my mind again and again. I "read" both Transatlantic and this book by audio and find myself in both cases wanting the hard copy to be able to flip open a page and find some unexpected gem.
Apr 29, 2016 Glen rated it really liked it
This is a powerful collection, particularly the first and third stories ("Wood" I found a little bit cryptic by comparison). For those who like good fiction and want a look at the Northern Ireland "Troubles" from within, so to speak, this is a good choice. The third and longest story, "Hunger", tells the story of the 1981 hunger strikes by imprisoned IRA members that resulted in 10 prisoner deaths from the point of view of an adolescent boy whose uncle is one of the strikers. All three stories a ...more
Aug 15, 2013 Robert rated it it was amazing
Stellar storytelling from McCann, this time detailing the complex nature of the more recent Troubles in Ireland. His writing depicts characters of all sorts and shame-free while the stories themselves stay with you for a long time after you've read them.
Jul 27, 2016 Miguel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was my first approach to the Irish author McCann, I found in his writing a beautiful description of the cruel world from the young characters, the author involves history, feelings and doubts in the three stories of the book, taking the reader into a deep topic: The guilt. Every main character is the representation of revolution, each of them are full of questions and prejudice, asking what is good and what is bad, and the most important: doubting about their parents and suffering about the ...more
Emily White
Feb 16, 2014 Emily White rated it really liked it
Calum McCann visits many of the issues involved in the Northern Ireland conflict of a few years ago. One story tells of a protestant family that secretly makes wooden flagpoles for their Catholic enemies so that they have enough money to live on. Another tells of a young man displaced with his mother from their home so that they can stay safe. So much is explored in this tome, much of it heartbreaking, but much of it about learning from our experiences as well. I heard Colum McCann speak once ar ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Nancy rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2011 Frank rated it liked it
Shelves: irish-authors
Not quite up to the standard of Let the Great World Spin, but these are much different stories on a different scale.

The two short stories and novella in this collection all revolve around “the Troubles” in the North of Ireland which haunted generations of Irish people on both sides of the border as well as in Britain for decades. Significantly, none of the main characters are directly involved in direct conflict. In the first, titular, story a Catholic farmer and his daughter receive unwanted he
Apr 24, 2012 Arti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book compiling two short stories and a novella, Everything in this Country Must reaffirms my admiration for Colum McCann's spare and powerful writing.

McCann is the author of the 2009 National Book Award winner Let The Great World Spin. In my review of that book, I noted how he'd intricately woven together seemingly unrelated stories against the backdrop of the Twin Towers, crafting a moving tribute to NYC.

Before NYC, McCann had written about his home country Ireland. Everything In This Country
May 13, 2012 Joanie rated it it was amazing
After thinking about it for a few days I'm changing my rating from 4 to 5 stars.

This is a collection of two short stories and a novella, all set in Northern Ireland during "The Troubles" of the late 70's, early 80's and all told from a child's point of view. McCann not only explores the politcal struggles of that time, but the struggles kids face when they feel pulled in two different directions.

In the first story "Everything in this Country Must" a young girl struggles with her feelings of gr
May 03, 2010 Darryl rated it really liked it
Everything in This Country Must consists of two short stories and a novella, which are set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. The first short story, "Everything in This Country Must", is narrated by a farm girl whose mother and sister were killed by British army troops, who struggles vainly alongside her embittered father to rescue his beloved draft horse from a raging river, until British soldiers come to their aid. "Wood", the second short story, describes a poverty stricken boy and his ...more
Dec 23, 2010 Dorothy rated it really liked it
A slim volume of one novella and two short stories set during "The Troubles" in Ireland. I have read quite a few novels set in Ireland this year and I find that each author has a slightly different view of events that led to so much violence. I don't necessarily agree with the blurb on the cover which states that this is "the only book" to read on this period of Irish history. It is such a complicated issue that I feel the more we read, the more we can try to understand the events and how they a ...more
Apr 29, 2016 Greta rated it really liked it
Colum McCann is one of my favorite authors and especially now that Northern Ireland is on the travel plan for us and he is Irish. He writes gritty, emotional portraits of ordinary folks who are struggling with the daily business of living life. This group of three stories painted very different pictures but the rough texture of coping with adversity is the same reality for all, painful.
Aug 10, 2014 Alyson rated it really liked it
Absolutely wonderful to listen to on audiobook, especially the title story. I found it impossible not to be swept away into the swirling action and emotion of a near tragedy and its fallout. This is a novella and two short stories that are combined into a beautiful small book that leaves me wanting for more.
Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
May 08, 2016 Börkur Sigurbjörnsson rated it it was amazing
A very pleasant collection of short-stories. My favorite kind of realistic fiction. I needed some time though, to get used to the Irish accent as I listened to the audiobook version, aye.
Jack Long
Nov 20, 2013 Jack Long rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-literature
Colum McCann's Everything in this Country Must consists of a novella and two short stories with the backdrop of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. In the title story, a teenage girl must choose between allegiance to her Catholic father and gratitude to the British soldiers who have saved the family's horse. The protagonist of Hunger Strike, a novella, tries to replicate the experience of his uncle, an IRA prisoner on hunger strike. In Wood, a small boy does his part for the Protestant marches con ...more
Apr 17, 2015 5greenway rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four or five, I hate 'rating' books... Two lovely miniatures and a longer story that nearly had me crying into my stout in the pub.
Mar 16, 2015 r rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i read this to someone over the phone. tough to get anything across. i'm kinda monotone. it was a decent couple of stories.
Joe Imwalle
Apr 19, 2015 Joe Imwalle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Colum McCann writes some of the most amazing imagery and provides just the right details for his stories. The novella in this one is very good. The hunger strikes in Northern Ireland is the backdrop to a coming of age story that felt very real.
Jun 23, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it
Moving slice-of-life portrait of Irish life in the shadow of the Troubles. Lovely, poetic, haunting.
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Colum McCann is the author of two collections of short stories and four novels, including "This Side of Brightness,""Dancer" and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers. His newest novel “Let the Great World Spin” will come out in 2009. His fiction has been published in 26 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review and other places. He has wri ...more
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“The ticking was gone from my mind and all was quiet everywhere in the world and I held the curtain like I held the sound of the bullets going into the draft horse, his favourite, in the barn, one two three, and I stood at the window in Stevie’s jacket and looked and waited and still the rain kept coming down outside one two three and I was thinking oh what a small sky for so much rain.” 3 likes
“Darkness doesn't fall, he thought as he swayed to the radio, it rises up from the bottom of the sea and begins to breathe around us.” 1 likes
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