The fortunes of Dónal Ryan’s novel, The Spinning Heart, look exceedingly bright in the USA following a very positive review in Sunday’s New York Times.
“With the barest thread of a story line, the book suggests an intimate oral history of a moment in time, its rotation of voices — sharing regrets and desires along with town gossip — reminiscent of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology," writes Daphne Kalotay in her glowing review of Ryan's novel.
“The extensive cast spins variations on a theme, fathers who terrorize their wives and children, and mothers who rack up pregnancies for the government’s monthly 150 euros per child, “ the reviewer continues.
“While the material often feels familiar (we even meet the kindhearted town floozy, now aging and abandoned), Ryan writes with compassion, honesty and an appealing deadpan humor, as when one unfortunate character confesses, “The biggest mistake I made when I was younger was getting tattoos all over my face.”
Kalotay, who is herself a novelist, continues: “I felt some alarm when I realized I would continue to meet one new narrator after the next for the entire book, like a long receiving line at a party — but it is to the author’s credit that I rarely had to check back to keep everyone straight. There is also the pleasant anticipation of wondering how each new character will fit into Ryan’s mosaic.”
A relatively short book at 159 pages, The Spinning Heart won the Bord Gáis book of the year in 2012, the Guardian First Book Award in 2013 - valued at £10,000 - and it was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize last year.