Let the Great World Spin
The plot of the book revolves around two central events. The first, laid out clearly in the book's opening pages, is the sensational real-life feat of the Twin Towers tightrope walk of Philippe Petit 110 stories up, performed in 1974. This first of the two "central events," being focused on the old Twin Towers, lays the groundwork for the author's description of the human ability to find meaning, even in the greatest of tragedies, for which the Twin Towers serve as a sort of an allegory. The second central event, which is only revealed halfway through the book, is the fictional courtroom trial of a New York City prostitute. This second central event serves as a sort of point of balance, bringing the book back down to its more earthly, and therefore more real basic story lines.
In the novel the author employs the unusual literary technique of designating multiple protagonists within the same book. In fact, no less than 11 different protagonists are introduced throughout the course of the book, each in their own dedicated chapters. Additionally, the various protagonists are sometimes cast in roles which are naturally in conflict or tension with one another: for example, first a prostitute, and then the judge who must pass sentence upon her. In this particular case, first an earlier chapter of the book presents the courtroom story through the eyes of the prostitute, later in the book the same story is retold through the eyes of the judge.
Throughout the book the author weaves the stories of each of his protagonists through both of the two central events, exploring the personal impact that each of these two events had on the lives of each of the various protagonists. Additionally, some other issues which are unique to certain of the various protagonists are touched upon, such as the loss of a child, or the personal struggles that a member of a Catholic religious order must contend with. (This religious protagonist named "Corrigan" happens to be loosely based on the real life Catholic priest, Daniel Berrigan.) 
While some of the story lines may pass more directly through one of the two central events than the other, all are either directly or indirectly linked to them both. Through the author's ability to draw the reader into the minds of each of the many and varied protagonists, the reader is given an in-depth and multifaceted view of both the heights and the depths of life in New York city for both its ordinary, and its more extraordinary citizens. In subsequent interviews, the author has noted his intention to point out the melodramatic tensions present in all of our lives, whether perched upon a death-defying high wire, or merely trying to live out a more "ordinary" life, "where there is still an invisible tight-rope wire that we all walk, with equally high stakes, only it is hidden to most, and only 1 inch off the ground". 
New York Times reviewer Jonathan Mahler ranked this book as, "One of the most electric, profound novels I have read in years."  This book received the 2009 National Book Award for fiction.