The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

Posted by Guy Pringle, 21st November 2012

My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see if he is dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down. With an opening like this things can only get worse - and they do.


On the eve of the annual Irish Book Awards I thought I'd throw in my nomination for outright winner. I'm not Irish but I completely fell for The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan. Even more amazing is that this is a debut and, to my mind, the most significant book to come out of Ireland since Angela's Ashes. Spinning Heart is a novel rather than a memoir but has the smack of authenticity.


The aftermath of the financial crash figures large here and its effects on an underclass often denied a voice. Each chapter is a different character for whom Ryan crafts a distinctive voice. As Bobby, Josie, Lilly et al give their point of view on local events a jigsaw comes together.


I’ve read many good books this year – new and old – but this is my book of 2012. 

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