The Queen of Dirt Island: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


A sublime novel about a grandmother, mother, and daughter that is infused with Irish humor, spunk, melancholy, and, above all, heart. Violence and tragedy are never far from the women, but even closer are their bonds to each other, rendered by Ryan in generous, gorgeous prose. — Mike Hare

Heart, Great Big Gobs of Heart that is what this book is. The messy boundless love and devotions of the four generations of the Aylward women. Passionate, sincere and true these women are of flesh and blood and will haunt you. But what amazes me in each of Donal Ryan's books that I have read is that the passionate, sincere and truth is laid out in sparring, tightly drawn writing. I don't know how he evokes so much story in such a clean, precise yet beautiful language. Ryan belongs in the canon canon with Edna O'Brien and John B. Keane — Maeve Noonan

Donal Ryan absolutely sticks it in his spectacular new novel about four generations of Irish women. Each short chapter tells a story of its own and these little tales slowly build the larger narrative of a family bound by love and strife. Some chapters are brilliantly funny. Others are filled with melancholy and heartbreak. One sucked the air out of my lungs.
It's all pitched perfectly in Ryan's singular voice with the occasional use of the best all-caps I've ever read. All together, GRAND. — Stan Hynds

Donal Ryan's Queen of Dirt Island is an elegantly crafted narrative that explores the lives of four generations of Irish women living under one roof. Through his honest and raw portrayal of these resilient women, Ryan immerses you in their emotions—their joys, struggles, fears, and hopes—while capturing their deep affection for each other. This novel vividly showcases the profound strength of family bonds, enduring friendships, and love.

Nicole Ihasz

Description


“From its opening pages, this book exerts a quiet, propulsive hold over its reader. The three generations of Aylward women will break your heart and then put it back together again.” Maggie O'Farrell


"This is a generous mosaic of a novel about the staying power of love and pride and history and family." –Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon and Let The Great World Spin
 

From the multi-award-winning and internationally bestselling author Donal Ryan, a searing, jubilant story about four generations of women and fierce love


The Aylward women of Nenagh, Tipperary, are mad about each other, but you wouldn’t always think it. You’d have to know them to know that—in spite of what the neighbors might say about raised voices and dramatic scenes—their house is a place of peace, filled with love, a refuge from the sadness and cruelty of the world.
 
Their story begins at an end and ends at a beginning. It involves wives and widows, gunrunners and gougers, sinners and saints. It’s a story of terrible betrayals and fierce loyalties, of isolation and togetherness, of transgression, forgiveness, desire, and love. Of all the things family can be and all the things it sometimes isn’t. The Queen of Dirt Island is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal love and the powerful stories that bind generations together.

About the Author


Donal Ryan is a novelist and short story writer from Nenagh, County Tipperary. He has won several national and international awards for his fiction, and has twice been nominated for the Booker Prize. His work has been adapted for stage and screen and translated into over twenty languages. Donal is a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Limerick, where he lives with his wife, Anne Marie, and their two children. The Queen of Dirt Island is his seventh book and was an instant number-one bestseller in Ireland.

Praise For…


“If language — lyric, lovely and funny, steeped in County Tipperary — and women (men come and go, rarely center a chapter and are often useless, sometimes cruel) are of no interest to you, The Queen of Dirt Island is not your next read.  Ryan’s book is a celebration, in an embroidered, unrestrained, joyful, aphoristic and sometimes profane style, of both . . . The Queen of Dirt Island gives the women their due, and the reader is rewarded.” -- Amy Bloom, The New York Times Book Review


“Donal Ryan’s The Queen of Dirt Island is a little Irish miracle . . . there’s as much implicit wisdom in these pages about how to live as how to write . . . Ryan has his own emotional range and a way of capturing the largeness of what look like tiny lives but aren’t . . .”-- The Washington Post


“As for Mr. Ryan’s treatment of Saoirse: I do not know of another male writer who has so perfectly captured the experiences and thoughts of a woman as he has. Saoirse’s shades of emotion and thought are poignantly true to life, recognizable, and perfectly conveyed. Further, as we have come to expect from Mr. Ryan, this very fine novel concludes on a note of sweetness and, also, in this case, triumph.” -- Wall Street Journal


"Characters are compelling and vividly drawn, the dialogue is profane and frequently hilarious ... the prose drips like honey off a spoon" The Sunday Times (London)


“From its opening pages, this book exerts a quiet, propulsive hold over its reader. The three generations of Aylward women will break your heart and then put it back together again. It’s a beautiful, compassionate novel - Donal Ryan at his inimitable best.” Maggie O'Farrell

‘Dark and moving from one of Ireland’s most underrated talents ... lyrical, cinematic and masterful’ The Herald (London)

"A jewel of a novel that will surely become a classic ... another triumph form a remarkable storyteller ... Ryan is a gifted storyteller with a gift for sparkling dialogue ... an enthralling and unmissable read" –The Daily Express / The Daily Mirror (London)


“Tender with comic observation … a topsy-turvy emotional rollercoaster” The Daily Mail (London)


"Big-hearted, generous and brimful of emotion, this is a gorgeous, life-enhancing novel." The Sunday Daily Mail (London)

"This is a generous mosaic of a novel about the staying power of love and pride and history and family.  While Donal Ryan is never afraid of "all the meanness and sorrow of the world," he also manages to excavate the thrilling beauties that hold us together.   He manages, with wit and grace, to illuminate the anonymous corners of human experience and get at the underworld of our souls." Colum McCann, author of Apeirogon and Let The Great World Spin
 

"In gorgeous, graceful prose, Donal Ryan tells the story of four generations of women in this tender, joyful gem of a novel." Paula Hawkins, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Slow Fire Burning

"Beautifully poised, sad, poetic and human....I loved every single line." ―Ian Rankin

"Glorious, rambunctious, warm-hearted... a story about the drama of ordinary lives - betrayal, heartbreak, loss - but above all, love." The Bookseller (London)

"Beautiful, absorbing." The Sunday Telegraph (London)

"Donal Ryan makes writing look effortless. He manages to capture the world and all its broken beauty in one tiny corner of Ireland. His characters feel like people you've always known. His words seem to sing off the page." Jan Carson, author of The Raptures
 

"Another offering from the master storyteller.  The most vivid characters, so full of life.  You read each short chapter wondering how he's crammed in so much heart and wonder, while the story itself ramps up to its quietly devastating and marvelous conclusion." Kit de Waal author of My Name is Leon

"I was thunderstruck by this exquisitely beautiful and powerful novel. This is writing of shimmering truthfulness, empathy and authority by the most consistently brilliant Irish writer of his generation." Joseph O’Connor, New York Times bestselling author of Star of the Sea and Shadowplay


"Donal Ryan repeatedly broke my heart and then soldered it back together with words of molten gold. The Queen of Dirt Island is a powerful tribute to mothers in all of their ferocity, tenderness and guilt. I loved this book with my whole patchwork heart. Eloquent, beautiful and threaded throughout with a joyful savage humour, a privilege to read, and re-read.’" Liz Nugent internationally bestselling author of Little Cruelties

"Donal Ryan is one of the finest novelists writing today and this is a gem of a novel. Full of humanity, humility, humour, drama and mystery, his characters are so vivid you feel they are sitting outside, waiting for him to conjure them to life. He writes with grace and precision, with love indeed, about who we are and why, about family history and the ghosts we carry. A haunting, exquisite masterpiece." Rachel Joyce, New York Times bestselling author of Miss Benson's Beetle

"The Queen of Dirt Island is an endlessly surprising story of the heart’s secret places, and what we hide there. The tiny chapters glow like memories, a hundred glimpses of hurt and joy that mark the steady rhythm of passing years. You really feel you’ve lived another life among these people, and known their pain, and felt the full force of their love. This magnificent novel confirms Donal Ryan is a writer of rare and precious vision: he sees the world as it ought to be, and dares you to believe in it.” Michael Hughes, author of Country


"Hymn to the warp and woof of life; celebration of the flip-flop way of family; soaring testimony to the endurance of the human spirit. And all delivered with his trademark compassion, empathy, humour and brio. A gift of a book." Alan McMonagle, author of Laura Cassidy's Walk of Fame and Ithaca

"Ryan’s writing is like poetry and he has a real gift for creating characters who live in full technicolour. Highly recommend." Good Housekeeping (London)

"In Ryan’s hands the mundane and the everyday is transformed into a thing of beauty, thrumming with significance" –Refinery 29 (London)

"Magical" –The Observer (London)

"Ryan's writing is so musical, so easily heard, that your eyes will dance through its pages" –The Guardian

“. . . his sixth novel, The Queen of Dirt Island, adds to an impressive body of work that should garner him wider recognition ... Whether Ryan is exploring the shifting dynamics of the Aylward women’s often intense interactions or following the contours of Saoirse and Josh’s tempestuous love affair, he does so with sensitivity and grace ... capable of leaving an imprint on the reader’s mind and heart.” -Bookpage


Product Details
ISBN: 9780593652954
ISBN-10: 0593652959
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: February 27th, 2024
Pages: 256
Language: English