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.
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A Conversation with Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart
What is The Spinning Heart about?
I always find it hard to answer the question "What's your novel about?" in a way that makes it sound interesting. "It's about the effects of the recession," I say, and watch as the person's eyes glaze over. "Oh right, that sounds interesting," they invariably lie. "There's a murder - and a kidnap!" I desperately add, but it's usually too late.
Why did you choose such a topic as the recession, then?
I didn't set out to write a recession novel. It was always about the lives of a group of people. It's just that for most of our communities, this is the first topic of conversation. I wanted to write a book about how the way we relate to one another and how the way we perceive ourselves has changed; how the crumbling of our certainties has started to allow us to see more clearly to the core of ourselves. There's a marriage at the centre of The Spinning Heart, and a relationship between a father and son, and they're what I was most concerned with. Human relationships are, to borrow from James Salter, all that is. But a novel described as being about a marriage, or simply as about love, will often be...
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