Top 50 Irish Novels

The James Joyce Center co-sponsored a contest with The Irish Times voting on the best Irish novels. They had a predetermined list of books which the voters could choose from.

So while the outcome may be a bit predictable – it’s also a cream-rising-to-the-top list, which pleases a literary elitist such as myself.

I haven’t read a lot of these books. I have read most of the Top 10 –

The only exceptions are:

John McGahern’s “Amongst Women” which my father assures me is tremendous.

I also haven’t read Flann O’Brien’s “The Third Policeman”, although I adored “At Swim-Two-Birds”, which was the URL of my old blog. That signifies nothing, just thought I would mention it to show its omnipresence in my life.

I also haven’t read any John Banville – which will probably shock my father – who is a huge fan. Am I right about that, dad?

Patrick McCabe’s “Butcher Boy” seems misplaced on the Top 10.

I read it. It was interesting and all – but to beat out other Irish books, such as “Lion, Witch and Wardrobe” or Francis Stewart’s “Black List Section H”??

William Trevor is another author I’ve never read.

Here’s the list of the Top 50:
James Joyce Ulysses (1922)
James Joyce A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
John McGahern Amongst Women (1990)
Flann O’Brien At Swim Two Birds (1939)
Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Grey (1891)
Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
Flann O’Brien The Third Policeman (1967)
Bram Stoker Dracula (1897)
John Banville The Book of Evidence 1988
Patrick McCabe The Butcher Boy (1992)
James Plunkett Strumpet City (1969)
C. S. Lewis The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
Edna O’Brien The Country Girls (1960)
Samuel Beckett Molloy (1951)
Patrick Kavanagh Tarry Flynn (1948)
Brian Moore Judith Hearne (1955)
Elizabeth Bowen The Last September (1929)
Lawrence Sterne Tristram Shandy (1760)
Jennifer Johnston How Many Miles to Babylon? (1974)
Kate O’Brien The Land of Spices (1941)
Samuel Beckett Murphy (1938)
John McGahern The Barracks (1963)
Maria Edgeworth Castle Rackrent (1800)
Roddy Doyle The Woman Who Walked Into Doors (1996)
Seamus Deane Reading in the Dark (1996)
William Trevor Felicia’s Journey (1994)
Jennifer Johnston The Captains and the Kings (1972)
William Trevor Fools of Fortune (1983)
Molly Keane Good Behaviour (1981)
Colm Toibin The South (1990)
Sam Hanna Bell December Bride (1950)
Somerville and Ross The Real Charlotte (1894)
Brian Moore The Emperor of Ice Cream (1965)
Eugene McCabe Death and Nightingales (1992)
James Stephens The Charwomen’s Daughter (1912)
Keith Ridgway The Parts (2003)
J G Farrell The Siege of Krishnapur (1973)
Aidan Higgins Langrishe Go Down (1966)
Francis Stuart Black List, Section H (1971)
Charles Maturin Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
Christopher Nolan The Banyan Tree (1999)
John Banville Birchwood 1973
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu Uncle Silas (1864)
George Moore A Drama in Muslin (1886)
George Moore Esther Waters (1894)
Thomas Kilroy The Big Chapel (1971)
William Carleton The Black Prophet (1847)
Deirdre Madden The Birds of the Innocent Wood (1988)
Hugo Hamilton Surrogate City (1990)
Sean O’Reilly Love and Sleep (2002)

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2 Responses to Top 50 Irish Novels

  1. Emily says:

    I mistakingly read that last title as “Love and Sheep” at first glance. Boy, did that ever catch my attention.

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