The New York Times reviewer Jonathan Mahler ranked this book as, "One of the most electric, profound novels I have read in years."
The novel received numerous honours including the U.S. National Book Award. It was named winner of the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in June 2011. The judging panel, among whom were John Boyne and Michael Hofmann, described the book as a "remarkable literary work [...] a genuinely 21st century novel that speaks to its time but is not enslaved by it", noting the book's opening pages in which "the people of New York city stand breathless and overwhelmed as a great artist dazzles them in a realm that seemed impossible until that moment; Colum McCann does the same thing in this novel, leaving the reader just as stunned as the New Yorkers, just as moved and just as grateful". Lord Mayor of Dublin Gerry Breen said it was "wonderful and fitting to have a Dublin winner in the year that Dublin was awarded UNESCO City of Literature designation, a designation in perpetuity".