The Weight of a Human Heart
Pub date: May 2012
RRP: $27.95
ISBN: 9781863955577
Imprint: Black Inc.
Format: PB
Size: 210 x 135mm
Extent: 240pp

The Weight of a Human Heart

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.

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Praise for The Weight of a Human Heart:

“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

‘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

‘full of verve and wit.’ - Canberra Times

“tremendously satisfying … this is the most entertaining short story collection I've come across. Ever.” - Ilura Gazette

“an impressive collection of stories” - Verity La

"Clever, uproarious, dazzling collection of short stories" – The Monthly 

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

“A book that delights in scuffing the conventions of short fiction... O'Neill brings playfulness into stories for a literate audience” – Sydney Morning Herald 

"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

Interviews and Reviews:

Read an interview with Ryan O'Neill on Books+Publishing.

Johannes Jakob, 'This is a positive review of Ryan O'Neill's short story collection The Weight of a Human Heart,' Kill Your Darlings, 24 April 2012.

Conrad Walters, 'A jolt of electricity kick-starts the art', the Age, 9 June 2012.

Listen to an interview with Ryan O'Neill on ABC Radio National's Books and Art Daily.


Shortlisted for the Australian Short Story Collection Prize in the 2012 Queensland Literary Awards

Shortlisted for the UTS Glenda Adams Award in the 2013 NSW Premier's Literary Awards

Shortlisted for the First Book Award in the Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Awards

Ryan O’Neill

Ryan O’Neill is the author of The Weight of a Human Heart. His fiction has appeared in The Best Australian StoriesThe Sleepers AlmanacMeanjinNew Australian StoriesWet InkEtchings and Westerly.