Award winning Tipperary author Donal Ryan has spoken of how his wife saved him from “drowning in a sea of rejection”.
The Nenagh writer, who was nominated for this year’s Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, The Spinning Heart, was speaking at the launch of his second novel, The Thing About December. The book is dedicated to his wife, Anne Marie.
“I wrote this book for Anne Marie. She told me to do it. She told me I could do it. She kept me going when I faltered. She stopped me from destroying it several times. And she saved me from drowning in a sea of rejection,” he told the launch in Nenagh Book Shop.
Mr Ryan also praised the bookshop’s owners, John and Catherine Ryan, for hosting the launch.
“They have been massive supporters of mine from the very start, before anyone heard of me or The Spinning Heart, much less bought it. When I was long listed for the Man Booker Prize I walked past their window display and I was very emotional actually. It was so lovely to see it,” he said.
Mr Ryan described John and Catherine Ryan as “real true book sellers”.
“Their passion for, and their knowledge and love for books, enriches this town and their customers’ lives. It is one of life’s great pleasures to walk into a bookshop and where the person at the counter actually wants to talk about books. Long may you be here in Friar Street in this embassy for books,” he said.
Speaking on the launch in his native town, Mr Ryan said: “It is such a pleasure to be at home in Nenagh among friends and family and readers of books. I am in the place I love most in the world with the people I love most in the world.”
He thanked his family and friends who have been so supportive, in particular his uncle Brendan Ryan, “one of the first to read this book and to give me real hope that some day it might be published”.
However, he said that the greatest inspirations in his life were his parents.
“They filled my childhood with books and happiness and filled me with confidence. Anyone who knows them will recognise them in this book. They are the best parts of every character. They are wonderful people, and thanks doesn’t come close,” said Mr Ryan.
“I have been very lucky in life to have friends like Brian Treacy, Gary Browne, and Conor Cremin. These guys are very rare among Irish men. They told me I could do things before I thought it myself. They are the kind of friends who always encouraged me and always supported me,” he said.
The Thing About December is set over a the course of one year in Johnsey Cunliffe’s life, as he tries to hold on to the familiar. It tells the story of a lonely man struggling to make sense of a world moving faster than he is.