Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.
In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. As violence flares, the characters face a battle between public persona and inner desires. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.
The Spinning Heart speaks for contemporary Ireland like no other novel. Wry, vulnerable, all-too human, it captures the language and spirit of rural Ireland and with uncanny perception articulates the words and thoughts of a generation. Technically daring and evocative of Patrick McCabe and J.M. Synge, this novel of small-town life is witty, dark and sweetly poignant.
Donal Ryan's brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in fiction.
YOU KNOW, I don't think Réaltín realizes the trouble she causes half the time. Every single person in work knows about her going off with George at the anniversary party, but still it's me that has to get the evil eye off all the old bitches all day every day. It's grand for Réaltín, off on her so-called special career break. That was a new one for Georgie Pervy, the chickenshit bastard. Jesus, how are all men the exact same? George leches all over everyone, well, all the young ones anyway, and no one gives it a second thought, but Réaltín has to take it to the next level and actually shag him. But Réaltín doesn't care; she just does anything she wants. I'm not saying I don't love her, I really do, she's gorgeous, and she's brilliant craic and everything, but I'd never say this to anyone she's going to have to cop herself on. She's going to have to decide what she...
The novel (though "novella" might be the more appropriate term for a book of just 160 pages) is a chorus of twenty-one first-person narratives, including Bobby's. Ryan features representatives from every sector of the community: an old woman, a little girl, a Russian immigrant, a single mother, a police officer, a schizophrenic man, and so on. The book triumphs at giving each character a distinctive voice, varying by level of diction, thickness of Irish dialect, staid or gossipy tone, and each person's particular preoccupations. The novel's context may not be immediately apparent, but it starts to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
(Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).
Full Review (835 words).
Although the 2008 financial crisis that provides the background to Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart had worldwide repercussions, the effects were felt particularly heavily in Ireland. The crash was preceded by a time of great prosperity in the country, such that the booming economy was given the nickname of the "Celtic Tiger," comparing it to some of the East Asian economies that took off in the late 1980s.
Foreign investment, increased partnership between employers and unions, industrial subsidies, more women joining the workforce, a low corporate tax rate, and membership in the European Union were all factors that led to an average 9.4% annual expansion in the economy between 1995 and 2000. Over the decade between the mid-nineties and ...
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