Winner of the Irish Book Award
Finalist for the Booker Prize
This “affecting” debut is “reminiscent of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying” as it paints a vivid portrait of a working-class community in contemporary rural Ireland (New York Times Book Review).
“One of my favorite Irish books . . . Moving, atmospheric and beautiful.” —Tana French
In the aftermath of Ireland’s financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.
The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark, and sweetly poignant. Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in fiction.
Irish Book of the Decade (Dublin Book Festival)
First Book Award (The Guardian)
“Newcomer of the Year” and “Book of the Year” (Irish Book Award)
“Best Book of the Year” (Library Journal)
The winner of the Guardian First Book Award features a chorus of voices telling the story of an Irish village undergoing a post-recession crisis and evokes Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, right down to a section narrated by a recently deceased character. At the center is Bobby Mahon, a building foreman who discovers, as the book opens, that his boss has "shafted" him and his coworkers, cheating them of a pension and disappearing after the housing boom goes bust. Bobby's decency is admired by everyone, and it underpins the novel: the belief in Bobby's good nature seems to unite these people, to serve as a salve on the wounds of economic collapse. As rumors spread that Bobby is having an affair and that he has killed his loathed father, and as a child disappears, the villagers will need to marshal their faith in him. Equal parts mournful and hopeful, the book pays keen attention to the ways lives coalesce and fall apart in time of personal and national crises. Even as some of the voices seem extraneous, added for color but little else, Ryan has created a faithful portrait of a time and place in his debut novel, but his truest accomplishment lies in the fact that, though the individual accounts add up to a greater whole, each story stands on its own.
An incredible story written in the most captivating way. Can’t recommend enough.
A novel about the harm done a town by the real estate bust would have made for a great read. Why ruin that real story with a murder and a child-snatching as if the lives the 2008 meltdown ruined weren't story enough?