John Hawkes Books In Order


  1. Beetle Leg (1951)
  2. The Lime Twig (1961)
  3. The Cannibal (1962)
  4. Second Skin (1964)
  5. The Blood Oranges (1971)
  6. Death, Sleep and the Traveller (1974)
  7. Travesty (1976)
  8. The Passion Artist (1979)
  9. Virginie (1982)
  10. Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade (1985)
  11. Innocence in Extremis (1985)
  12. Whistlejacket (1988)
  13. Island Fire (1988)
  14. Sweet William (1989)
  15. The Frog (1996)
  16. An Irish Eye (1997)


  1. The Owl / Goose on the Grave (1954)


  1. The Innocent Party (1966)
  2. Lunar Landscapes (1969)
  3. Humors of Blood and Skin (1984)
  4. The Review of Contemporary Fiction: 20 (2000)

Non fiction

  1. Hawkes Scrapbook (1991)

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John Hawkes Books Overview

The Lime Twig

This volume brings together three early novels by John Hawkes. ‘The Lime Twig‘ is set in the underworld of postwar London; ‘Second Skin’ is a tale of suicide and new life on two mythical islands; and ‘Travesty’ is a monologue on fear and eroticism that takes place during a drive at night.

Second Skin

‘John Hawkes is an extraordinary writer. I have always admired his books. They should be more widely read.’ Saul BellowSkipper, an ex World War II naval Lieutenant and the narrator of Second Skin, interweaves past and present what he refers to as his ‘naked history’ in a series of episodes that tell the story of a volatile life marked by pitiful losses, as well as a more elusive, overwhelming, joy. The past: the suicides of his father, wife and daughter, the murder of his son in law, a brutal rape, and subsequent mutiny at sea. The present: caring for his granddaughter on a ‘northern’ island where he works as an artificial inseminator of cows, and attempts to reclaim the innocence with which he faced the tragedies of his earlier life. Combining unflinching descriptions of suffering with his sense of beauty, Hawkes is a master of nimble and sensuous prose who makes the awful and mundane fantastic, and occasionally makes the fantastic surreal.

The Blood Oranges

‘Rich, evocative, highly original piece of fiction. It gilds contemporary American literature with real, not synthetic, gold.’ Anthony Burgess’Need I insist that the only enemy of the mature marriage is monogamy? That anything less than sexual multiplicity…
is naive? That our sexual selves are merely idylers in a vast wood?’ Thus the central theme of John Hawkes’s widely acclaimed novel The Blood Oranges is boldly asserted by its narrator, Cyril, the archetypal multisexualist. Likening himself to a white bull on Love’s tapestry, he pursues his romantic vision in a primitive Mediterranean landscape. There two couples Cyril and Fiona, Hugh and Catherine mingle their loves in an ‘lllyria’ that brings to mind the equally timeless countryside of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Yet no synopsis or comparison can convey the novel’s lyric comedy or, indeed, its sinister power sinister because of the strength of will Cyril exerts over his wife, his mistress, his wife’s reluctant lover; lyric, since he is also a sex singer’ in the land where music is the food of love.


Hawkes, Travesty. John Hawkes’ most extreme vision of eroticism and comic terror.

The Passion Artist

A classic of dark eroticism from one of the great American writers of the twentieth century. Set in an imaginary European city, The Passion Artist takes us into the dream like interior world of Konrad Vost, a middle aged widower grieving for his dead wife, devoted to his schoolgirl daughter, and obsessed with the memory and the fate of his mother, who is an inmate in the city’s prison. When Vost discovers that his daughter has become a prostitute, and that the women prisoners are in revolt, he embarks on a fantastic series of violent and erotic encounters, exploring the shifting balance of power between the sexes, and the limits of human perversity. .


Virginie is an 11 year old girl leading two lives. In the first life, it is 1740 and she is servant and companion to the aristocratic Seigneur. In the second, it is 1945 and Virginie is the young sister of a Parisian taxi driver named Bocage. Her former master is a Pygmalion styled creator of erotically receptive women, a teacher who raises women of lowly origins to accommodate the tastes of a decadent French nobility. In the latter life, Bocage brings a circle of prostitutes home for his evenings of entertainment.


While investigating his mentor’s life and death, Michael, a voyeuristic fashion photographer, travels through a Dionysian landscape where sex is daydream, women and horses share the same erotic power, and perversity is the rule. An inventive mix of biography, history, erotica, and classic whodunit, ‘Whistlejacket‘ is John Hawkes at his best as he blurs distinctions between death and desire, image and language, art and morality.

Sweet William

From the National Book Award winner comes the moving novel of Sweet William, an old thoroughbred horse, who recounts the trials and tribulations of his life. Sweet William shares the glory of his days as a race horse and as a broken down mount transformed by the kindness of a strange old man.

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