REUTERS

REUTERS

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.