The feeling of loss gripping exiled characters as they move on with their lives in new territories is counterbalanced with the need to recreate a place, which is often a synonym for home and the locus of nostalgic emotions. Colum McCann’s novels and stories explore both the ache of living away from one’s native place and the struggle and sometimes enthusiasm to recreate a new place. The narrator’s quest for his mother’s lifestory in Songdogs precisely deals with this tension. His inability to live in Ireland and his need to come to terms with his mother’s own exile and failure to settle and build a place to feel at home in Ireland keep him from actually settling in Ireland himself. In This Side of Brightness,1 Treefrog’s underground dwelling-place and his agility in moving high above ground level are symbolic of the complex relationship of exiles to place and displacement. In most of McCann’s texts, the native place has been left behind and characters have to deal with displacement and sometimes a feeling of placelessness. We will rst elucidate the notions of place, displacement and placelessness before setting on to examine Giorgio Agamben’s denition of the contemporary2 to show how, in many ways, the exile’s experience is universal. While this interpretation of the exile’s being in the world might explain the recurrent motive of characters being trapped and enmeshed in routines and behaviour patterns, we will ask to what extent maps and mapping is an obsessive quest and a dead-end for the characters in McCann’s ction. How does this quest in turn reveal the pre-eminence of movement in McCann’s representations of space and place, as a means to escape both the nostalgic past, while embodying the possibility of a future?