Award-Winning Irish Author to Speak About Peace Through Storytelling as Part of the Cordell Hull Peace Forum at Cumberland University

Colum McCann

Cumberland University will welcome National Book Award Winner Colum McCann to campus on Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall for the author event “From Enemies to Brothers” - The Story of Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin. 

Taking place during the university’s 180th anniversary and Peace Forum, the concept of peace through storytelling is explored in McCann’s latest novel “Apeirogon”, which takes a poetic and personally painful dive into the Middle East Conflict by chronicling the real life story of two men who came together in grief to find brotherhood. Following a reading from “Aperiogon” will be a moderated discussion with the author and Rami Elhanan, an Israeli, and Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian, who have bonded over each other’s stories of loss and overcome cultural contempt. 

Released in February of 2020, “Apeirogon” is a New York Times best-seller that has already been translated into several languages, and has had movie rights bought by Steven Speilberg’s Amblin company.

McCann is the author of seven novels and three collections of stories and has been the recipient of many international honors. He is the president and co-founder of the global nonprofit organization Narrative 4 which is shaped by educators and led by students as a way to cultivate empathy through its core methodology of story exchange. 

“I believe in the democracy of storytelling,” said McCann in an interview. “I love the fact that our stories can cross all sorts of borders and boundaries. “To step into the shoes of others in order to be able to step back into our own, through our stories, is a powerful and healing experience.” 

Along with the author event, Cumberland will be hosting its own Story Exchange on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 2:00 p.m. in Baird Chapel, in conjunction with University Chaplain Mike Ripski’s theme for Chapel Chats this semester: “Everyone Has a Story.” This student-led activity seeks to gain greater understanding of others’ viewpoints and the human condition. 

Since 2017, Cumberland University’s Creative Writing and English Departments have committed to hosting literature events with visiting authors and poets of national merit. The university also houses Novus, an international literary journal with writing collections from students and national and international poets and writers. Assistant Professor of Creative and Imaginative Writing Sandee Gertz shared the importance of McCann’s book and the concept of storytelling. 

“Via the fictional and nonfictional events of these two gentlemen’s lives, we learn in “Apeirogon” how the act of sharing stories can bring together even the coldest enemies,” said Gertz. “Through this exploration of “radical empathy,” and in story exchanges throughout the campus, we will seek to emulate this very human act and emotion as we come together as a united body.” 

For more information about the author event and story exchange, please contact Sandee Gertz at

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