Ryan wins Guardian First Book Award

Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart (Doubleday Ireland) has tonight (28th November) been named the winner of the 2013 Guardian First Book Award.

The Spinning Heart, told from the points of view of 21 people struggling to get by in a rural village in contemporary south-west Ireland after the financial collapse, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013 and also won Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2012.

Lisa Allardice, editor of Guardian Review and chair of the award judging panel, said: “Slim in size, ambitious in structure and devastating in its emotional force, The Spinning Heart is a bravura performance. Donal Ryan gives voice to those who are more used to silence and to feelings that are often unexpressed: the 21 internal monologues come together as a great cry of pain from a community in crisis.

“It was a tough decision, as always, but here is a new novelist whom we all felt we would be hearing more from in the future."

Novelist and broadcaster Paul Mason, who sat on the judging panel, said: “When someone pops up and says, I'm going to tell the entire story of how a country was ripped off, and its illusions shattered, in the voices of 20-odd nobodies from a rural town, and here's the demotic language, and here's the poetry and bitterness of working class life—and then delivers, in their first novel, you've just got to stand back and applaud.

“There were two or three strong contenders but what stood out for me was Ryan's audacity.”

Ryan won a £10,000 prize plus an advertising package in the Guardian and the Observer.

Also shortlisted for the 2013 Guardian First Book Award, in association with Waterstones, were Kiss Me First by Lottie Moggach (Picador); Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (Picador/Pan Macmillan); We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (Chatto); and Sex and the Citadel by Shereen El Feki (Chatto & Windus).

The shortlist was selected in collaboration with UK-wide reading groups, run in partnership with Waterstones. The reading groups selected their favourite books from the longlist and these suggestions assisted the judging panel in selecting the final shortlist.

As well as Allardice and Mason, the judging panel consisted of psychotherapist and writer Susie Orbach, novelist and memoirist Rachel Cusk, novelist and critic Philip Hensher, and Stuart Broom of Waterstones, who represented readers' views.