Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan lives in San Francisco. Her stories and writing often center on the body—its joys, secrets, memory, urges, and horrors.
Rohan’s first novel, The Weight of Him, was published by St. Martin’s Press, February 14, 2017, and from Atlantic Books shortly thereafter. She is also the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the former longlisted for The Edge Hill Prize and the latter longlisted for The Story Prize. She wrote, too, the award-winning chapbook Hard to Say (PANK) and the award-winning e-memoir single, Out of Dublin (Shebooks).
Winner of the 2013 Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award, and shortlisted for the CUIRT, Roberts, and Bristol Short Story Prizes, her work has appeared in The New York Times, World Literature Today, PEN America, Tin House Online, The Irish Times, BREVITY Magazine, and The Rumpus, among many others. She has reviewed books for New York Journal of Books, and elsewhere.
Her most recent work appeared in the anthologies THE LINEUP: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press, 2015); Winesburg, Indiana (Indiana University Press, 2015); DRIVEL: Deliciously Bad Writing by Your Favorite Authors (Penguin: Perigee, 2014). She is also a contributor and associate editor to the anthology Flash Fiction International (W.W. Norton, 2015).
About The Weight of Him
The Weight of Him tells the story of Billy Brennan. At four hundred pounds, Billy can always count on food. From his earliest memories, he has loved food’s colors, textures and tastes. The way flavors go off in his mouth. How food keeps his mind still and his bad feelings quiet. Food has always made everything better, until the day Billy’s beloved son Michael takes his own life.
Billy determines to make a difference in Michael’s memory and undertakes a public weight-loss campaign, to raise money for suicide prevention—his first step in an ambitious plan to save himself, and to save others. However, Billy’s dramatic crusade appalls his family, who want to simply try to go on.
Despite his crushing detractors, Billy gains welcome allies: his community-at-large; a co-worker who lost his father to suicide; a filmmaker with his own dubious agenda; and a secret, miniature kingdom that Billy populates with the sub-quality dolls and soldiers he saves from disposal at the factory where he works. But it is only if Billy can confront the truth of his pain, suffering, and the brokenness around him that he and others will realize the rescue and recovery they need.
Praise for The Weight of Him
“The Weight of Him is an achingly sad, achingly lovely novel that speaks to the essential core of our shared human experience. I will not soon forget it. Ethel Rohan, a prodigiously skilled short story writer, has proved herself, in this debut novel, to be a master of the long form as well.”
– Robert Olen Butler, author of Perfume River
“In The Weight of Him Ethel Rohan shows herself to be one of those rare, courageous writers who dare to take on the ‘ordinary’ and show just how extraordinary it really is. A brave and moving book.”
– John Banville, author of The Blue Guitar
“How can a story abut death be so life affirming? Ethel Rohan’s compassionate debut novel is sad, heartbreaking even, but also uplifting, a celebration of the determination to keep on trying.”
– Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters