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Eagerly anticipated first collection of short stories from the author of The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December

An old man looks into the fearful eyes of a burglar left to guard him while his brother is beaten; an Irish priest in a war-torn Syrian town teaches its young men the art of hurling; the driver of a car which crashed, killing a teenage girl, forges a connection with the girl’s mother; a squad of broken friends assemble to take revenge on a rapist; a young man sets off on his morning run, reflecting on the ruins of his relationship, but all is not as it seems.
Donal Ryan’s short stories pick up where his acclaimed novels The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December left off, dealing with the human cost of loneliness, isolation and displacement. Sometimes this is present in the ordinary, the mundane; sometimes it is triggered by a fateful encounter or a tragic decision. At the heart of these stories, crucially, is how people are drawn to each other and cling on to love, often in desperate circumstances.
In haunting and often startling prose, Donal Ryan has captured the brutal beauty of the human heart in all its hopes and failings.

Reviews

Donal Ryan’s ambition is to evoke the marginal or washed-up existences of people in a global but very non-metropolitan Ireland as the 21st century dawns. . . . He channels their voices with consummate ventriloquism . . . Ryan’s ear for an authentically crackling colloquialism is as sharp as ever. . . . Ryan’s skill with language flicks out slang and abuse with a masterly touch . . . his ear is sharply attuned and his sense of irony remains mordant.

Roy Foster, The Irish Times

Donal Ryan, one of our most remarkable writers, has produced a book of short stories of such visceral power that they hit you in the solar plexus. He deals with the dark side of modern Irish life and produces sentences of titanic impact.

Joe Duffy, Irish Mail on Sunday

Outstanding stories . . . There's a bracing - indeed, sometimes saving - humour . . . and there's a tenderness, too, towards many of the collection's lost souls. . . . Ryan is already such a master of the short form that even when you dread the outcome, you can't stop reading.

John Boland, Irish Independent

Donal Ryan is a heartbreaker, his quicksilver prose laced with . . . wistful rhythms . . . These breathtaking stories explore human love against an uneasy landscape of violence and desperation. . . . Donal finds hope in dark corners. 'Sky' [is] a story about everything - life, loss and loneliness - but also just about one man's love for his nephew. [The title story's] gentle and redemptive ending leaves you gaping with wonder.

Daily Mail

Donal Ryan is a master of the magnetic first line. . . . His faithful subject is rural despair; the poetry of adversity, the baffling fortitude of intrinsically decent people. . . . These are plain-speaking stories, and in spite of the pervasive woe, this plain speech lends itself to blunt, bleak, brilliant humour. . . . Each unit of language has been scrupulously positioned, though the overall effect is of effortlessness. . . . This collection shows Ryan adding his own elastic yet distinctive voice to O’Connor’s impeccable tradition.

Sara Baume, The Guardian

Donal Ryan is a master of the magnetic first line. . . . His faithful subject is rural despair; the poetry of adversity, the baffling fortitude of intrinsically decent people. . . . These are plain-speaking stories, and in spite of the pervasive woe, this plain speech lends itself to blunt, bleak, brilliant humour. . . . Each unit of language has been scrupulously positioned, though the overall effect is of effortlessness. . . . This collection shows Ryan adding his own elastic yet distinctive voice to O’Connor’s impeccable tradition.

Sara Baume, The Guardian

When Donal Ryan mixes equal parts terror and wistful the results can be mesmerising. . . . Donal Ryan proves himself yet again to be one of the most imaginatively daring writers at work in English today.

RTE Ten

Donal Ryan is among the great contemporary chroniclers of grief, loss and bewilderment. . . . Often those voices are brought to life with precision, resonance and particularity of cadence.

The Independent

Ryan makes poetry from everyday speech, his prose beautifully turned.

Sunday Business Post

A collection of short stories cut from the same cloth as his previous work . . . Love (needing it and giving it), loneliness and displacement all find a home in these stunning pages.

Emma Herdman, Press Association

Novelist Donal Ryan serves his first collection of short stories straight up - albeit with an extra shot of savagery. . . . Alienation, isolation and desperation are the themes that dominate, allowing Ryan to probe the possibility of human connection in the direst of circumstances.

Observer

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781784160241

    March 15, 2016

    Black Swan Ireland

    240 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781473509948

    September 24, 2015

    Transworld Digital

    240 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by Donal Ryan

From a Low and Quiet Sea
All We Shall Know
The Thing About December
The Spinning Heart

Recommendations

The Heart's Invisible Furies
The Handmaid's Tale
Uncommon Type
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Echo Burning
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Dragonfly In Amber
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time
The Golden Age
The Golden House
Swing Time
Men Without Women
The Bear and The Nightingale
The Mistress
The Girls
Tiger Men