Irish Book Awards

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Private Ryan wins the day

December 1, 2012

Donal Ryan’s brilliant debut novel The Spinning Heart has been voted the Bord Gáis Energy Book of the Year from a shortlist comprising the winners of the individual generic categories announced at the Irish Book Awards gala dinner on November 22nd. Despite competition from major writers such as John Banville, Edna O’Brien and the highly-acclaimed Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, Ryan’s expansive and ambitious novel emerged as the overall winner in what was commonly regarded as a wonderful year for Irish writing.

An Irish Book Awards spokesman commented “The Spinning Heart is the sort of debut that must hearten all who care about the Irish literary tradition. To discover a writer of such skill and assurance in a first book is truly extraordinary. Our Lifetime Achievement winner Jennifer Johnston marvelled at Donal Ryan’s ability to transmute the grief and pain in the book through the sheer quality of his writing and to this — and the general acclaim of reviewers and his fellow writers — we are delighted now to recognise The Spinning Heart as the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards Book of the Year.”

Our warmest congratulations to Donal and to his publishers Lilliput and Transworld who believed in his undoubted talent. A literary caeer of distinction beckons and we wish him well with it. To those who haven’t read The Spinning Heart, do yourselves a favour and secure a copy of a novel which captures the anguish of post-boom Ireland better than any other. And, as Jennifer Johnston has remarked, the quality of the writing is in itself a pressing reason to acquaint yourselves with this special new talent.

Praise for The Spinning Heart:

I was hugely impressed by The Spinning Heart. There will be many novels which explore the effect of the crash on the people of Ireland but I can’t imagine a more original, more perceptive or more passionate work than this. Outstanding. — John Boyne

A first novel that’s up-to-date in its concerns but that also transcends the merely topical in its bleak, if often savagely funny, vision of a rural Ireland.  Donal Ryan has an imaginative insight into his characters that’s all his own and a furious energy to his prose that gives arrestingly vivid life to these blighted souls. … a darkly persuasive debut. — John Boland

Ryan’s feat is considerable. Narrative and character information is distributed among so many different voices and yet we never feel at a loss. Even the characters on the margins of the story … add compelling colour and texture. Best of all, Ryan’s ear for speech is acute. … Given a novel as brilliantly realised as The Spinning Heart, I see no reason to look anywhere but the present. For Donal Ryan, the future is now. — Declan Hughes

See Donal Ryan’s interview with John Murray after he won the Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year award – click HERE.