This is an extraordinary debut novel. It is set in small-town recession-hit Ireland where everyone knows everyone’s business and the departure of a bankrupt builder leads to a great hole in the community. Ex-foreman Bobby, the central character is given first shot as narrator and then the tale is told by twenty other narrators, developing the plot. No one is given a second bite of the cherry. This unusual device works so well, as within a few pages Ryan superbly creates each character through their own narration. It is a book of voices, every one clear and vibrant. Each section could be read separately as a high-quality short story but when read as a whole it becomes a compelling first-rate novel of contemporary Ireland. It is a slim book and deceptively simple. Reading groups would love that a little analysis shows what a complex piece of work this and marvel at how a whole community , could be created in so few words: Wonderful, economic writing. “The Spinning Heart” is a superb achievement by Donal Ryan.
This review first appeared in New Books – the magazine for readers and reading groups.
6 thoughts on “100 Essential Books – The Spinning Heart – Donal Ryan (2012)”
Pingback: The Life And Death Of Sophie Stark – Anna North (W& N 2016) – reviewsrevues
Pingback: 100 Essential Books – The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne (Black Swan 2017) – reviewsrevues
Pingback: 2018 – What I Should Have Read – reviewsrevues
Pingback: Strange Flowers – Donal Ryan (Doubleday 2020) – reviewsrevues
Pingback: The Queen Of Dirt Island – Donal Ryan (Doubleday 2022) – reviewsrevues
Pingback: Top 10 Books Of The Year 2022 – Part One (10-6) – reviewsrevues