Book Three 2014:
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
You wait for ages for a book that will keep you up until late, late at night demanding that you finish it and then two come along at once like buses. Thus with Donal Ryan’s already long-acclaimed The Spinning Heart.
Look, I know I should have cottoned on to this some time ago, what with it being longlisted for the Booker and winning the Irish Book Of The Year in 2012. I suppose like many others it winning the Guardian First Book Award recently really stuck in on to the “must read” list.
If I’m to be honest, the cover and the title put me off for a while. A female friend of mine described it as looking “a bit wishy-washy and girly”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I don’t want to reveal anything, shy of it being a series of chapters all told in the voices of many individual characters (from a small child to an elderly man after death(!) all living in the present in a small Irish town. Mid-crash, post-ghost estate, pre events that connect them all.
Every voice rings real and true (save one in my head, but I’m very picky) and the writing tightrope that has to be seamlessly traversed, given the structure he’s imposed upon himself to tell the story and not make it seem like a writing exercise, is a very, very high wire indeed. I read all 156 pages yesterday from the time I got on the DART coming home ’til the time I put it down finally, bleary-eyed and knackered in bed after midnight.
In time I’m sure people will look back at this as defining the Ireland of the 2010’s as much as we do Joyce’s Dubliners defining the Ireland of the 1910s.
A *must* read.
Am off out to buy his new one.