After reading Donal Ryan’s wonderful novel The Thing About December, I also had to read The Spinning Heart which was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.
In The Spinning Heart, twenty-one inhabitants of a rural Irish town tell us about their lives after Ireland’s financial collapse.
First to tell his story is Bobby Mahon. He was foreman at the local construction firm, its unexpected closing-down having effects on the whole town. Bobby links the twenty other people who follow, but the more stories we get to read, the harder it gets to remember who is who. There are just too many characters and the Irish names I have never heard before make it a guessing game to find out a character’s gender.
The plot is like a puzzle. In the beginning it seems a bit loose, but the further you read, the more the pieces start to fit together. The individual chapters are like short stories that are just connected enough to make The Spinning Heart a novel. This lack of connection makes the book a bit slow to read. Nevertheless, some of the stories make you want to know more and it is a pity that you have to part ways with the characters so soon. Overall, The Spinning Heart is a nice debut, but if you have to choose, I’d recommend you read The Thing About December.