Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

Donal Ryan won both best newcomer and best book at this year’s Irish Book Awards no small achievement for a debut author but it will have come as no surprise to those who have read this small but very powerful novel. This is the first attempt in fiction to examine the aftermath of the financial crash on the ordinary Irish people. The book is divided into twenty one individual first person narratives from interconnected characters. Rather than try to paint a broad picture of the aftermath of the housing boom and bust Ryan has instead opted to concentrate on the impact on one small Tipperary town.  The voices are unique but share a bitterness and bewilderment at their circumstances. The mood of depression and anger is palpable and violence simmers below the surface throughout before finally exploding. There are echoes of Patrick Kavanagh in the writing style and Ryan joins the ranks of talented young writers now emerging in Ireland, including Kevin Barry, Paul Murray and Joe Murphy. Despite the anger which leaps off the page the unifying thread in this compelling story is love and the search for love as Triona the final voice in the novel states “What matters only love?”

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