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A Slanting of the Sun Donal Ryan Lilliput Press Book Cover

A Slanting of the Sun

The Dublin Edition

By: Donal Ryan

Publication Date: September 2015

(11 customer reviews)


Following the thunderous and worldwide success of his first two novels, The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December, Donal Ryan is back with a stunning new short story collection A Slanting of the Sun. Poignant, punchy and philosophical, these stories will now become an integral part of the Ryan oeuvre and establish him as a permanent fixture within the Irish literary canon.

“Ryan’s skill with language flicks out slang and abuse with a masterly touch, though sometimes an oddly flowery or philosophical note breaks the spell.” -The Irish Times

This remarkable new gathering of twenty stories spans the spectrum of society: from the small-town pub, to the squat, to the nursing home; from thugs, victims, cheats and asylum seekers, to the chronically ill. They encapsulate all that is so impressive about Donal Ryan’s writing and are replete with the rambling colloquial dialect, sharp sense of place and bursting capsules of character we have come to expect. Their wonderful tonality and vast emotional scope showcase Ryan’s ability to depict human frailty while maintaining dignity and integrity. He is an ‘ambulance chaser with a soul.’

In Tommy and Moon, the narrator alludes to himself as a writer working on his next book, with a gorgeous story about a hawk; in The Passion, perversity blossoms in imperceptible steps; in The Squad, tiny problems are elaborated into struggles of great human poignancy; the character in Royal Blue is a brilliant little queen, full of spark and verve; and the unexpected twist in Losers Weepers is so skillfully executed it leaves the reader gasping. The title story, A Slanting of the Sun, carves a hollow of loss in the narrator’s world, tracing the swell and fall of his faith. It breathes and sighs and sends shivers.

A Slanting of the Sun, proudly published for the first time by The Lilliput Press, is sure to thrill Donal Ryan’s readers and win him many new ones.


Donal Ryan was born in Nenagh in North Tipperary. His first novel, The Spinning Heart (2012), won the Guardian First Book Award and the EU Prize for Literature and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the IMPAC International Literary Award and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The Thing About December (2013), Ryan’s 2015 short story collection A Slanting of the Sun (2015),  All We Shall Know (2016) and From a Low and Quiet Sea (2018) are all published by Lilliput and available in a limited Dublin Edition format, unique to The Lilliput Press. Donal Ryan is a professor of creative writing at the University of Limerick and lives in Limerick with his wife and children.

‘Each unit of language has been scrupulously positioned, though the overall effect is of effortlessness.’ SARA BAUME, THE GUARDIAN

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11 reviews for A Slanting of the Sun

  1. Lilliput Press

    “Donal Ryan returns with a collection of short stories, following his excellently received The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December. This collection has all of the wisdom of the depth of human experience we’ve come to expect from his work.

    It features a story about a man just after coming out of jail with his family and feeling that prison has changed him. It turns out he killed a loved one after driving too fast. What follows is surely an example of forbidden passion, something that would surely be frowned upon.

    Later we have the story of a man talking of a murder, where a group joined up to help a friend kill the man who raped his daughter. It shows the effect this had on him and he’s certainly aware that it didn’t help the girl who later killed herself. He talks of people losing their faculties in a care home and struggling with memory. Care homes recur in the book as and there really are some quite disturbing stories featuring death and abuse.

    He gets into the soul of people. A story of physiotherapy can reveal so much about a life, getting into the promise of marriage, a love affair and the death of a son. We get to see the horror of war in story too, showing death all around and featuring commentary about the people that feel death is necessary.

    It’s not all dark though. One story talks about the beauty in the world that can keep someone going, like a story, a book, a friend, a family member. Another has a character feeling everything he’s ever said is still floating around, as indeed is every sound ever made. There’s beautiful stuff here, like the talk of the distance between people and lost connection.

    This is a stunning collection, with Ryan hitting all the right notes and getting into the deeper parts of the soul. There’s so much expressed in each and every story and the overall collection underlines his supreme talent once again.” KEVIN FREEBURN

  2. Lilliput Press

    “Perhaps not quite up to the standard of his two novels, this haunting and often very dark collection of short stories demonstrates Ryan’s enormous literary talent and unerring eye for the loneliness, inarticulacy and isolation of his characters. I’m not a great fan of short stories, and find that I quickly forget most of the ones I read, but there are one or two in this collection that are truly outstanding and that will long stay with me.” AMANDA JENKINSON

  3. Lilliput Press

    “This is a bleak but utterly gripping selection of short stories – often with ambiguous endings, that seeks to prise open the human mind and glimpse inside. Often self-destructive, Ryan’s narrators have invariably suffered or inflicted some kind of tragedy, and their response is to slowly destroy themselves. Ryan uses motifs such as crows; and the vastness of the sky; and his theme is nearly always loneliness. The stories are all set in rural Ireland, but although Ryan allows references to ‘the troubles’, his lens is much wider – the human condition is his focus, and by god does he make you feel it.” SCAROTH

  4. Lilliput Press

    “I know of Donal Ryan through his award winning novel, The Spinning Heart. When I discovered he was publishing a collection of stories, it made sense: Ryan is one of those writers whose prose works in short and long form. The acute observations, the imaginative use of language, his writing brings alive the intricate cruelties and pain of life and offsets these with the moments of kindness, hope, love and humour.

    Some of the stories in this collection are snapshots into people’s everyday lives. Others are specific tragedies, for example, death, prison and conflict. I particularly liked: The Passion, which aches with regret and the sense of not knowing how to make a situation better; The Slanting of the Sun, filled with menace and hope; the building tension in Nephthys and the Lark; the sense of completion in Trouble; the irony and humour of Crouch End Introductions.

    This has to be one of the most wonderful story collections published. I read two stories a day, one with my breakfast and one in bed. Each one struck me, bam, in my guts and I was momentarily immobilised while my imagination fizzed and spun. Sometimes it was a phrase, a particular word or the way that Ryan conveys an action or emotion which made me think, yes, that is exactly how it is. What I like about short stories is the concentrated experience, the sharp focus. Reading Donal Ryan’s collection is the equivalent of popping a chunk or two of Green & Black’s 85% dark chocolate into your mouth and letting it dissolve from room temperature. It’s a strong and sensual ‘hit’, not too sweet, and definitely to be savoured.

    I have been a fan of Irish writing for many years. My collection of Seamus Heaney’s poetry is rarely all on the shelf at the same time, and his depictions of rural life (and its parallels) have been favourites of mine for many years. I adore the stories of William Trevor and Kevin Barry, and Claire Keegan’s work has a similar effect on me as Donal Ryan’s. Increasingly I have been reading Irish crime fiction. Reading Irish writing as a non-Irish person is a particular experience whether it is set in Ireland or not. With its characteristic themes of pain, love, death, conflict and beauty, so much is familiar yet the culture and history in which the pieces are steeped, are not. Irish writing is simultaneously personal and political: humour and strong family bonds provide the backdrop for the details and minutiae which represent years of history and struggle.

    In sum, for me, in an era when our worlds are squashed into computer clicks and tablet screens, the stories in A Slanting of the Sun somehow feel extremely important. I am still thinking about them now.” VICKY NEWHAM

  5. Lilliput Press

    “A collection of twenty short stories, from one of Ireland’s most loved authors, this is Donal Ryan’s third published title. The consecutive successes of The Spinning Heart and The Thing About December were the stuff of dreams. Originally rejected, many times, the author’s novels were discovered by an intern in a small publishing house and went on to capture the nations heart and imagination, while riding high on the bestseller list for most of 2014. Ryan’s lyrical prose and study of a rural Irish community, recovering from economic downturn, showed how the literary form can thrill a reader as much as any contemporary fiction. The author’s talent at showing beauty in the everyday, mundane lives of individuals shone from the pages of his books and introduced a bright new voice to the already established, yet unofficial, Canon of Irish literature.

    Understandably, there was a fear that this collection may not be as powerful or have the same originality of his earlier work. The fear is unfounded. This is a book of delight. Warm yet sharp, devastating yet memorable, ironic while at the same time believable. Characters are brought to life with concise clarity and a meaningful manner. The reader encounters liars, cheats, victims and the marginalized. There are insights into the minds of the disillusioned, the disenchanted and the desperate. While each story has its own unique narrative, there is a sense of uniformity throughout the collection. The goodness within can be tarnished by the need to function in a modern society, to expected standards and beliefs. The exhaustion of hiding inner-darkness is achingly obvious and the reader is not required to be a judge or jury at any stage. The stories are simply a peek through the keyhole, not a complete picture, but enough to catch a glimpse at the workings of others lives.

    In Trouble, we are witness to a young boys heartbreak, when he is once again stigmatized as being part of the travelling community. He is devastated to learn that he may never escape this, that his whole life will be one circle of judgment. In The Squad, we are privy to the memories of an old man, now in a nursing home. There are elements of regret languishing within him and despair at his inability to change the past. Sky is detailed with beautiful prose, showing how much a child can lend to the life of a lonesome adult and that dependence can occur without obviousness.
    Hurling is a recurring theme in many of the stories, with A Long Puc standing proudly erect among the tales. An Irish priest brings his love of the game to Syria, and instills the joy of the sliothar and the hurl to the village. Impromptu games and tournaments are arranged and there is a brief moment of joy in the battered land. The collapse of this brief unity is made all the more devastating with the image of an unused, hand-carved hurley, laying in wait against a holy-water font. The pain is raw and real.

    This is not a collection which will make you feel comfortable. It is not one that should be devoured in one sitting. Each story deserves its own space, its own time and its own contemplation. While some tales are more shocking than others, some have more ‘meat’ to them, they all have one thing in common. The don’t sugar coat life, they don’t shy from the harsh realities of human nature and they all linger for longer than the reader may necessarily want them to.

    A powerful collection, which should be savoured. Don’t bother putting it away when you have turned the last page. You may just be reaching for it, time and time again…” BLEACH HOUSE LIBRARY

  6. Lilliput Press

    “Very raw and honest storytelling. Descriptive and rich with meaning – I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Fast becoming a favourite author.” ELAINE O’CONNOR

  7. Lilliput Press

    “These stories demonstrate that Ryan can write engagingly about the despair and people on the margins of Irish society and beyond. The thing I like most about these stories is the variety of voices and the modernity, they seem to come from someone who is out in the real world: tbey are smoothly written but not stuffily literary. They are also full of sharp detail of modern life. Donald Ryan is one of those writers whose books I have to pre order as I can’t get hold of them soon enough.” SILLS

  8. Lilliput Press

    “Adored it. As ever, Donal Ryan delivers in a sanguine sleight of ‘pen’ heart-breaking, devastating and desperate stories from the backdrop of the backroads of Ireland. The final story, of the same name, broke me – almost. Pure storytelling genius.” AVINE

  9. Lilliput Press

    “This enterprising short stories book by Donal Ryan is in my opinion a small wonderful achievement.
    Storytelling is absolutely beautiful and this little book is a superb quality in prose.
    It’s a book written once again with a lot of enthusiasm about heartfelt situations and with absolute lifelike features, and so it gives all these stories really lifelike human pleasures and heartbreak.
    The stories describe all these people involved within this book with genuine human feelings and actions, so much so that it will give you a true insight about Irish life, rural and abroad.
    All the stories are situated within different kind of circumstances and in different kind of places all over the world, but most are in rural Ireland.
    Last but not least I would like to mention that these stories are told with a lot of Irish passion, while its about Irish justice and injustice, as well as Irish life and death situations, and finally about Irish society and its people doing their business and living their lives no matter how hard life can be.
    Really recommended, for this author deserves to be read and recognised, and so that’s why I call this book “Simply Wonderful Short Stories”!” CLEMENTS SCHOONDERWOERT

  10. Lilliput Press

    ‘A genuinely impressive first collection.’ IRISH EXAMINER

  11. Lilliput Press

    ‘This collection shows Ryan adding his own elastic yet distinctive voice.’ Sara Baume, THE GUARDIAN

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Weight 0.6 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

September 2015



Page Count


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