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Donal Ryan wins Guardian First Book Award for The Spinning Heart

Donal Ryan Photo: Matthew Thompson
Donal Ryan Photo: Matthew Thompson

TIPPERARY author Donal Ryan has won the 2013 Guardian First Book Award for The Spinning Heart, his debut novel.

The Irishman accepted the £10,000 prize at a ceremony last night at the Tate Modern in London.

Ryan said: “I can’t believe it – I know everybody says it, but I really can’t.”

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He went on to dedicate the award to all writers “working at their beginnings”.

“Of the many obstacles that stand in the way of a first book as it makes its precarious way into the world and into its reader’s hands, fear is often the biggest and the most difficult to surmount.

“Fear of not being good enough, of not being able to say what we mean,”  added Ryan.

The Spinning Heart is published by Doubleday Ireland

The Spinning Heart, released in 2012, tells of the struggles of a rural village in south-west Ireland after the financial collapse.

Judges described the novel as “slim in size, ambitious in structure and devastating in its emotional force”.

The novel, told through 21 internal monologues, has won praise for its exploration of the struggles of finding work in austerity Ireland.

The Spinning Heart was book of the year at the 2012 Irish Book Awards and long-listed for this year’s Booker Prize.


James Martin

James Martin is a freelance journalist. Follow him @JamesIsMartin

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