Author: Donal Ryan.
This is the final book I’m reviewing that was on my college reading list. This one comes from the pen of Donal Ryan, writer in residence at the University of Limerick. I’ve had the pleasure of being in a few of his classes and heard him speak at guest lectures. He’s a very witty speaker and an all round warm, down to earth person. His personality translates into his work, and this short story collection is no exception.
Donal Ryan is one of a number of Irish writers that I’m quite fond of, specifically because of his decisive engagement with modern subjectivity and social issues. As you might know I have a problem with Irish writers who are stuck in the past. Writers like Ryan give me faith for the future of Irish literature as a whole.
Again and again throughout A Slanting of the Sun we see his ability to engage with contemporary issues and also to give a voice to a variety of identities, some being marginal like the asylum seeker in “Grace” or the girl from the travelling community in “Trouble,” whose dialogue is so realistic and very interesting to read.
“Nephthys and the Lark” is shockingly relevant as it tells the account of abuse in a nursing home. This comes in light of the recent scandals in various care homes in Ireland. The language is subtle and it’s shocking when the real events are realised close to the story’s end.
Another favourite of mine is “Long Puck” about an Irish priest who goes over to Syria to be the local priest. In the vicinity are an Orthodox Church and also a Mosque. The interaction between the various religions was nice to read about. It’s also pretty humorous when the priest gets the locals to play hurling. Underneath the laughter, the story has a political commentary given the tension and unrest in the Middle-East.
I don’t want to give too much away but all in all, a wonderfully relevant book that engages with modern social issues, not only in Ireland but abroad.