Ryan O'Neill

The Weight of a Human Heart

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Sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, this collection turns the rules of storytelling on their head.

A series of graphs illustrates the disintegration of a marriage, step by excruciating step.

A literary stoush — and an affair — play out in the book review section of a national newspaper.

The heartbreaking story of a Rwandan boy is hidden within his English exam paper.

A young girl learns her mother’s disturbing secrets through the broken key on a typewriter.

Ranging from Australia to Africa to China and back again, The Weight of a Human Heart heralds a fresh new voice in Australian literature.

Shortlisted in the the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards, the 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards and the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards

‘Vital storytelling and literary flourishes distinguish Scottish author O’Neill’s creative story collection. 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.’ —Publisher's Weekly

The Weight of a Human Heart is refreshing, funny, devastating … 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

‘A book that delights in scuffing the conventions of short fiction … O'Neill brings playfulness into stories for a literate audience’ —Sydney Morning Herald

‘In the hands of this able practitioner the minor art form of the short story becomes major art.’ —Bookseller+Publisher

‘Tremendously satisfying … this is the most entertaining short story collection I've come across. Ever.’ —Ilura Gazette

‘Stories full of wit, irony, wild invention, love and pain — and sometimes shocking power.’ —Paddy O’Reilly

‘By turns acerbic, playful and serious, O’Neill is equally at home with satire and pathos.’ —Cate Kennedy

‘With each new story O’Neill redefines the boundaries of what is possible’ —Patrick Cullen

‘Clever, uproarious, dazzling collection of short stories’ —Monthly

‘An impressive collection of stories’ —Verity La

‘Full of verve and wit.’ —Canberra Times

Ryan O’Neill is the author of The Weight of a Human Heart and Their Brilliant Careers. He was born in Glasgow in 1975 and has 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 and been shortlisted for the Queensland Premier’s Steele Rudd Award and the Age Short-Story Prize. He teaches at the University of Newcastle.
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232 printed pages
Original publication
2012

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