Donal Ryan, author of The Spinning Heart, has won the 2013 Guardian First Book Award. A wonderful, career defining achievement. But what is the story behind his win?
Ryan was born in a village in North Tipperary and works for the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in Limerick. In his 20s, he wrote in short bursts but having children gave him the motivation he needed to finish two novels.
So it was that easy. He wrote two novels, that were snapped up immediately by publishers, with the second a follow up to his award-winning first. Right?
You see, Donal Ryan wrote two novels. That much is true. But he sent them to agents and publishers and got back 47 rejections over three years.
Let me repeat that. 47 rejections.
Finally an intern at Doubleday Ireland fished The Spinning Heart out of the slush pile, loved it, and passed it around the office. The rest is history.
Ryan’s second book The Thing About December, due for release next week was actually written first and is set almost a decade before The Spinning Heart.
The moral of the story is surely that, to all aspiring writers, if you believe in yourself the rewards will come. And it goes to show that behind every good book, there’s great story.
by Donal Ryan
Winner of Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2012
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.
Donal Ryan’s brilliantly realized debut announces a stunning new voice in literary fiction.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
Follow Andrew: Twitter