Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

In the aftermath of Ireland's financial collapse, dangerous tensions surface in an Irish town. Through a chorus of unique voices, each struggling to tell their own kind of truth, a single authentic tale unfolds.

Donal Ryan's The Spinning Heart is an absolutely stunning novel. It won Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, received the Guardian First Book Prize, and was longlisted for the Man Booker.

This is the opening paragraph:
My father still lives back the road past the weir in the cottage I was reared in. I go there every day to see is he dead and every day he lets me down. He hasn't yet missed a day of letting me down. He smiles at me; that terrible smile. He knows I'm coming to check is he dead. He knows I know he knows. He laughs his crooked laugh. I ask is he okay for everything and he only laughs. We look at each other for a while and when I can no longer stand the stench off of him, I go away. Good luck, I say, I'll see you tomorrow. You will, he says back. I know I will.
It's told in multiple voices by a cast of characters who all seem real, the rural Irish setting is vividly present, the language is rich with dialect, and the story is both tragic and funny. The book is short - 156 pages - and mental health is one of the issues addressed. The Spinning Heart rings so many of my reading preference bells, how could I not love it? And I do. With all my heart.

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