The Thing About December: Book summary and reviews of The Thing About December by Donal Ryan

The Thing About December

by Donal Ryan

The Thing About December by Donal Ryan X
The Thing About December by Donal Ryan
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  • Published Aug 2014
    208 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

While the Celtic Tiger rages, and greed becomes the norm, Johnsey Cunliffe desperately tries to hold on to the familiar, even as he loses those who all his life have protected him from a harsh world. Following the deaths first of his father and then his mother, Johnsey inherits the family farm, and a healthy bank account, both of which he proves incapable of managing on his own. Village bullies and scheming land-grabbers stand in his way, no matter where he turns. Though companionship, and the promise of love, enter his life as a result of a hospital stay following a brutal beating, Johnsey remains a lonely man struggling to keep up with a world that moves faster than he does.

Set over the course of one year of Johnsey Cunliffe's life, The Thing About December breathes with Johnsey's bewilderment, humor and agonizing self-doubt. Readers will fall in love with Johnsey in a bittersweet tale that serves as a poignant reminder that we are surrounded in life by simple souls who are nonetheless more insightful and wise than we realize, or can even imagine.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. The writing in this novel is simply amazing... [it] will at times make readers cry and at others, laugh in delighted recognition." - Library Journal

"Cunningly written, the novel gives us a glimpse into the underside of modern Irish life." - Kirkus

"Ryan proves himself capable of eliciting not just humour and sadness from this voice but also a genuine and underplayed poetry... Ryan continues to establish himself as an important voice in recording contemporary Ireland." - The Telegraph (UK)

"This is a novel to replenish the reader's heart and spruce the reader's soul, although it also makes one doubt we possess such signal things. It's a force of nature, high artifice and the product of a life-enhancing talent." - The Guardian (UK)

"Ryan is a remarkably good chronicler of contemporary Irish life, and The Thing about December fully confirms the promise of his earlier novel." - The Independent (UK)

"Donal Ryan's promising debut novel... is surpassed by [The Thing About December]... Only 205 pages in length, it's the kind of meaty read that should be sold with a knife and fork... powerful and satisfying." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"His characters are large-hearted people in a small-minded world and this timeless theme is played out, not in misty boggy nowhere-land, but in a contemporary Irish space, where people talk on their mobiles and the halal meat plant has been recently closed down." - The Guardian (UK)

"Ryan's work has set a benchmark to which other writers will aspire." - The Irish Times

This information about The Thing About December was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Donal Ryan Author Biography

Photo: MatthewThompson - Lilliput

Donal Ryan was born in a village in north Tipperary, a stroll from the shores of Lough Derg in 1976. He studied civil engineering in Limerick Institute of Technology, later completing a law degree at the University of Limerick through a night course. He currently works for the National Employment Rights Authority, and lives with his wife Anne Marie and two children just outside Limerick City.

Ryan's first two novels, The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December were between them rejected 47 times before they were finally accepted for publication.

Author Interview

Other books by Donal Ryan at BookBrowse
  • The Spinning Heart jacket
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