Frank Delaney’s Top 10 Irish Novels

Here it is..

Is the Elizabeth Bowen on the list the same author as the one who wrote John Adams and the American Revolution? Dad?

From this list, I have read Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, both by Joyce, obviously, The Country Girls, by Edna O’Brien, and Amongst Women, by the miraculous writer John McGahern.

The Country Girls, O’Brien’s first novel, is a trilogy about two young girls from County Clare who end up in Dublin, and we learn about their love affairs, their issues with their families, their jobs. It’s most definitely a first novel, but there are bits of prose so delicious you want to eat it, you want to read over certain images again. She GETS it. The way in is through your senses. I can still remember her talking about the mist rising from the grass, the red-velvet dress of the sort of slutty mother in their town … other sensory things, too. I like the first part of the trilogy best – when Kate and Baba are teenage friends, in the country … before they make the break to the city … before they start to get married and have awful love affairs. Not a great book, certainly, but a favorite.

And Amongst Women is a treasure. It’s one of the most painful books I think I’ve ever read. (Not as painful as Atonement, but pretty damn close.) That FATHER. He is one of the most well-drawn characters I’ve ever seen. He made my heart hurt. McGahern blew me away.

But … no At Swim-Two-Birds? In a round-about way, my old blog is named after that great book!

(via Dan)

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3 Responses to Frank Delaney’s Top 10 Irish Novels

  1. David Foster says:

    I strongly endorse his #6 recommendation, “Year of the French.” An incredible book; one of the best historical novels ever written.

  2. red says:

    David –

    It looks like Dan agrees with you – I will have to check it out. Thanks!

  3. dad says:

    Dearest: That was Catherine Drinker Bowen. Any list of top ten must include John Banville. Flanagan is an American [although the book is about Ireland], Joseph O’Connor is over his head most of the time [trying to live down his sister, Sinead’s, reputation], and Michael Farrell is a hack–a journalist that other journalist’s like Delaney tend to overrate. Bowen’s Last September and J.G. Farrell’s Troubles are terrific books. Actually, all of J.G. Farrell’s books are terrific, while Bowen is often tiring. Love, Dad

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