Debut novelist speechless after making Booker prize long list
Tipperary-born Donal Ryan among three Irish writers who made Man Booker prize long list for literature
Donal Ryan: “People were ringing and I had nothing to say at all because it didn’t sink in for a good while.” Photograph: Matthew Thompson
A debut novelist rejected by publishers 47 times has described how he was “literally speechless” when he found out he had been longlisted for the world’s most prestigious literary prize.
Tipperary-born Donal Ryan, is among three Irish writers who made the 2013 Man Booker prize longlist for literature.
The 37-year-old public servant was so convinced he wouldn’t make the cut he had booked time off work “to get over the disappointment”.
“Even though I knew I wouldn’t really have a right to be disappointed I had booked the day off work and planned to stay at home on my own so nobody would have to look at my long face,” he said.
“Instead I had to hastily arrange another day off to celebrate and to cope with all the calls. The phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
“I was literally speechless. People were ringing and I had nothing to say at all because it didn’t sink in for a good while. I knew I had an outside chance but I thought really there was no chance, ” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan, who works as an inspector with the National Employment Rights Authority based in Shannon, Co Clare, was long-listed for his book The Spinning Heart; one of the first literary novels to focus on the social and human effects of the recession in Ireland.
Irish writers Colum McCann and Colm Tóibín are among the 13 authors on the longlist for the 2013 Man Booker Prize
The shortlist will be announced on September 10th and the winner announced on October 15th. The winner will receive a £50,000 (€58,000) prize.
Mr Ryan’s next book The Thing about December is due to be published in September.
“In 2010 I found myself with two manuscripts which I thought were gems but in fact they were really just first drafts . . . I went against all advice that is given to aspiring novelists, and I sent out manuscripts and emails all over the place,” he said. The only thing about it was I became used to rejection very quickly because they came thick and fast.”
Asked about giving up his job for a full-time career in writing, Mr Ryan, who was named Best Irish Newcomer at the 2012 Irish Book Awards said: “I would really miss it because I love what I do but my job is very consuming and I would never let work suffer because of my writing so maybe if I got an opportunity to take some time off then I would consider writing full time,” he said.
Mr Ryan lives in Castletroy, Co Limerick, with his wife Anne Marie, who works for the Revenue Commissioners, and their two children Thomas (5) and Lucy (3).
His short story Losers Weepers will be published in The Irish Times on August 3rd as part of a series of stories influenced by the recession called Legends of the Fall.