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The Weight of a Human Heart

Ryan O'Neill


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (7/1/2014)


"You will be astounded by the hugeness of his heart, and by the breadth and depth of his vision. O'Neill is a writer of limitless imagination." Hector Tobar, author of "The Barbarian Nurseries"
Ranging from Australia and Africa to Europe and Asia and back again, "The Weight of a Human Heart" "heralds a fresh and important new voice in fiction. Ryan O'Neill takes us on a journey that is sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, and wholly original.

A young Tutsi girl flees her village on the brink of the Rwandan genocide. A literary duel and an affair play out in the book review section of a national newspaper. A young girl learns her mother's disturbing secrets through the broken key on a typewriter.

With imagination, wit, and a keen eye, Ryan O'Neill draws the essence of the human experience with a cast of characters who stick with you long after you turn the last page of this brilliant short story collection.

Praise For The Weight of a Human Heart

“Vital storytelling and literary flourishes distinguish Scottish author O’Neill’s creative story collection . . . there’s also sex, clever narration, and illustrative graphics that add wit and whimsy. What brings all of the tonal diversity together is O’Neill’s obvious understanding of the cohesiveness of language, its power to transcend and overcome, and the way an economy of precious words in a short story can achieve a novel’s worth of emotion.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

"O’Neill shows large-heartedness and a remarkable depth of experience in stories whose settings range from Australia to Rwanda to war-torn Eastern Europe . . . the singular mix of humor, intelligence, and global awareness sets this impressive collection apart from the crowd.” –Library Journal, starred review

“A story collection brimming with imagination” --Kirkus

“With the international scope of Nam Le’s The Boat, the rooted sense of place in Anthony Doerr’s The Shell Collector, and the playful wit of Jeanette Winterson’s The World and Other Places, Ryan O’Neill may have written the best first collection of stories you’re likely to read. If someone asked me to name my ideal collection of contemporary short fiction, I’d point to The Weight of a Human Heart and say, ‘This is it.’” –Wiley Cash, New York Times bestselling author of A Land More Kind Than Home

"Open this collection of stories and you will be astounded by the hugeness of the writer's heart, and by the breadth and depth of his vision. Ryan O'Neill is a writer of limitless imagination, unafraid to travel to the many dangerous and wonderful places that imagination takes him." --Hector Tobar, bestselling author of The Barbarian Nurseries

“Inventive, witty, and profoundly human, Ryan O'Neill is one of Australia's best short story writers." 
Simon Van Booy, author of Everything Beautiful Began After and winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award

The Weight of a Human Heart is refreshing, funny, devastating. Ryan O’Neill’s stories break rules to great effect; they're adventurous, textured, full of heart.  His prose is active and vivid; his characters are imperfectly real, out in the world, and under pressure. O’Neill is a smart and daring writer; he challenges the conventions of short fiction, but his stories are still deeply satisfying and offer glimpses into worlds readers need to see, worlds that are vile, beautiful, and utterly human.”  –Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise

"With hints of both O. Henry and Rick Moody, Ryan O'Neill has written a memorable collection of stories that's as stylistically inventive as it is emotionally engaging." --Alethea Black, author of I Knew You’d Be Lovely

“By turns acerbic, playful and serious, O'Neill is equally at home with satire and pathos” --Cate Kennedy, author of Dark Roots

“Playful with content, O’Neill is also joyfully original with format . . . [in] this brilliant collection.” The Independent, UK

“Daring, intelligent, witty, full of new discoveries and exhilarations.” –The Guardian, UK

"Both inventive and moving . . . Solving the riddles of his prose becomes addictive." --The Times Literary Supplement, UK

“Uproarious, dazzling collection” --The Monthly, Australia

St. Martin's Press, 9781250024992, 229pp.

Publication Date: July 16, 2013

About the Author

RYAN O'NEILL was born in Glasgow in 1975. He lived in Africa, Europe and Asia before settling in Newcastle, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. His fiction has appeared in The Best Australian Stories, The Sleepers Almanac, Meanjin, New Australian Stories, Wet Ink, Etchings and Westerly. His work has won the Hal Porter and Roland Robinson awards. The Weight of a Human Heart has been shortlisted for the 2012 Queensland Literary Prize - Steele Rudd Award. He teaches at the University of Newcastle.