TransAtlantic (Random House), the sprawling new novel by Colum McCann, might just deliver the grand scope promised in its title. The story spans not only the ocean but 150 years of history in the process. First, in 1845, Frederick Douglass shows up in Dublin on a lecture tour to discover the city ravaged by famine. In 1919 Jack Alcock and Teddy Brown prepare to set off from Newfoundland on the first nonstop transatlantic flight. Finally, in 1998, U.S. Senator George Mitchell attempts conflict resolution in Belfast. We trust in McCann, who has made his own leap from Ireland to New York, to connect their stories. Tonight he will journey trans-East River to present an alfresco reading as part of the Books Beneath the Bridge series. Fellow novelist Bill Cheng will join McCann in an outdoor conversation, Q&A, and book-signing.

Mon., July 22, 7 p.m., 2013