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J.J. Abrams eyes "Great World" book

 Director J.J. Abrams poses on the red carpet during the German premiere of the movie
Director J.J. Abrams poses on the red carpet during the German premiere of the movie 'Star Trek' in Berlin, April 16, 2009. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
— image credit: Reuters

By Jay A. Fernandez and Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Colum McCann's National Book Award-winning novel "Let the Great World Spin" is on its way to a movie deal.

J.J. Abrams is working out a rights deal to spin a feature from McCann's sprawling period piece. Abrams would produce -- with McCann adapting the screenplay -- at Paramount, where his Bad Robot production company resides.

"Spin," McCann's fifth novel, was published in June by Random House. Built around Philippe Petit's real-life "artistic crime of the century" -- when the Frenchman illegally walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center towers in August 1974 -- "Spin" follows an ensemble cast of characters struggling in New York.

The book's characters include a young Irish monk living among prostitutes in the Bronx; a group of Park Avenue mothers mourning their sons, killed in Vietnam; and a 38-year-old grandmother walking the streets with her teenage daughter. McCann's novel, which has drawn comparisons to Don DeLillo's work, serves as an allegory of 9/11 and its aftermath.

"Spin" joins a handful of other projects Abrams has in the works as a producer that spring from literary source material and do not feed his typical genre obsessions. Also at Bad Robot and Paramount are an untitled diamond-heist project derived from a Joshua Davis article in Wired and "Mystery on Fifth Avenue," from a New York Times article about a family's Manhattan apartment that was designed as a giant puzzle.

The Dublin-born McCann co-wrote with director Gary McKendry the short film "Everything in This Country Must," which was nominated for the best live-action short film Oscar in 2004. The author teaches at Hunter College in New York.

McCann also is the author of "Zoli," "Dancer," "This Side of Brightness," "Fishing the Sloe-Black River" and "Songdogs."

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