The 2013 Guardian First Book Award went to Donal Ryan for The Spinning Heart.
The chair of the judging panel, Guardian Review editor Lisa Allardice, paid tribute to the “raw talent, promise and originality” exhibited by all the shortlisted writers, but said The Spinning Heart stood out for its “startling audacity”. “It may be slim in size, but it is hugely ambitious in structure and devastating in its emotional impact,” she said. “Too often contemporary fiction is criticised for not engaging enough with contemporary issues, but this breathtakingly empathetic account of a community crumbling under the pressures of the recession deserves to stand as a companion piece to Anne Enright’s wonderful The Forgotten Waltz, also set against the boom and bust of recent Irish history.”
The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan
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. (read more on GoodReads)