Author Colum McCann describes ‘cowardly’ assault

Novelist attacked and injured in Connecticut hotel after reportedly coming to woman’s aid

Writer Colum McCann: attacked in New Haven hotel. File Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Award-winning Irish writer Colum McCann has described an attack on him in the US in which he was left with severe facial injuries as “ a shocking, cowardly attack in broad daylight on a busy street”.

Police said the author was beaten on Saturday night in New Haven, Connecticut. They say witness accounts suggest he may have tried to help a woman in a dispute.

In a statement issued through a public relations company this evening, McCann said: “ I was trying to help someone out. I was cold-clocked without warning. I had a severe concussion, a broken cheekbone, some broken teeth and a spirit that has been temporarily bruised.

“But I am recovering quickly and I’ve been overwhelmed by the generous response from friends and strangers alike.”


McCann said that luckily there had been an off-duty paramedic on the street who had come straight to his aid.

“The irony of it all is that I was at a conference on ’Empathy’ at Yale University with a non-profit I’m involved in, Narrative 4.

“I suffered a few injuries but nothing that can’t be quickly healed. If anything, I was shaken out of the ruts of my ordinary perception, and I have been struck the genuine caring nature of people asking about how they can help out.”

McCann said what he thought was “most important about this is that there are others who suffer far worse violence, and I think it’s important that we try to understand that the deep roots of silence are not helpful”.

“We need to speak out against this sort of thing. The police have not yet arrested the attacker but I believe they are very close to pressing charges, using video and witness evidence.

“It could have happened anywhere in the world. The fact that it happened on the edge of one of the world’s foremost colleges campuses simply highlights how prevalent this sort of situation is,” he said.

The novelist said the medical personnel who had helped him were “outstanding”.

“I am deeply thankful to all who have given me support.”

Police said earlier the woman’s companion may be the assailant they’re seeking.

The said the writer had given information to detectives and they had significant leads they hoped would soon lead to an arrest.

McCann is the award-winning author of six novels and two collections of short stories.

His novel Let the Great World Spin won worldwide acclaim, including the International Impac Award 2011, a literary award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and several other major literary prizes.

McCann lives in New York City. He just released the story Gone through the online publisher and subscription service Byliner. It is his first short story in a decade.