John McGahern Books In Order


  1. The Barracks (1963)
  2. The Dark (1965)
  3. The Leavetaking (1974)
  4. The Po*rnographer (1979)
  5. Amongst Women (1990)
  6. That They May Face the Rising Sun (2002)


  1. Nightlines (1970)
  2. Getting Through (1978)
  3. High Ground (1985)
  4. The Power of Darkness (1991)
  5. The Collected Stories (1992)
  6. Creatures of the Earth (2006)
  7. The Rockingham Shoot and Other Dramatic Writings (2018)


  1. The Country Funeral (2019)

Non fiction

  1. Memoir (2005)
  2. Love of the World (2009)
  3. Letters of John McGahern (2022)

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John McGahern Books Overview

The Barracks

One of the preeminent Irish writers of our time, John McGahern has captivated readers with such poignant and heart wrenching novels as Amongst Women and The Dark. Moving between tragedy and savage comedy, desperation and joy, McGahern’s first novel, The Barracks, is one of haunting power. Elizabeth Reegan, after years of freedom and loneliness marries into the enclosed Irish village of her upbringing. The children are not her own; her husband is straining to break free from the servile security of the police force; and her own life, threatened by illness, seems to be losing the last vestiges of its purpose.

The Dark

The Dark, John McGahern’s second novel, is set in rural Ireland. The themes that McGahern has made his own are adolescence and a guilty, yet uncontrollable sexuality that is contorted and twisted by both a puritanical state religion and a strange, powerful and ambiguous relationship between son and widower father. Against a background evoked with quiet, undemonstrative mastery, McGahern explores with precision and tenderness a human situation, superficially very ordinary, but inwardly an agony of longing and despair. It creates a small world indelibly and without recourse to deliberate heightening effects of prose. There are few writers whose work can be anticipated with such confidence and excitement. Sunday Times One of the greatest writers of our era. Hilary Mantel, New Statesman

The Leavetaking

Widely considered one of the greatest Irish writers by readers and critics alike, John McGahern has been called ‘arguably the most important Irish novelist since Samuel Beckett’ The Guardian whose ‘spare but luminous prose’ Chicago Tribune is frequently compared to that of James Joyce. In The Leavetaking, McGahern presents a crucial, cathartic day in the life of a young Catholic schoolteacher who, along with his new wife, returns to Ireland after a year’s sabbatical in London. Moving from the earliest memories of both characters into the present day, The Leavetaking recounts the couple s struggle to overcome the suffocating influence of the church in order to find happiness in a fulfilling adult love.

The Po*rnographer

Reissued to tie in with the publication of John McGahern’s new memoir, All Will Be Well One of the preeminent writers of our time, John McGahern has captivated readers with such poignant and heart wrenching novels as Amongst Women and The Dark. In The Po*rnographer, Michael creates an ideal world of sex as a writer of po*rnographic fiction, while he bungles every phase of his entanglement with an older woman who has the misfortune to fall in love with him. But his insensitivity to this love is in direct contrast to the tenderness with which he attempts to make his aunt s slow death in a hospital tolerable. Everywhere in this rich novel is the drama of opposites, but above all, sex and death are never far from each other.

Amongst Women

Moran is an old Republican, a veteran of the Irish Civil War. He is dominated by his daughters who revive the custom of celebrating Monaghan Day. It is through their lives that we discover the story of his life. This book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize 1990. The author also wrote ‘The Dark’.

That They May Face the Rising Sun

Widely considered to be the finest Irish writer of fiction at work today, John McGahern gives us a new novel that, with insight, humor, and deep sympathy, brings to vivid life the world and the people of a contemporary Irish village. It is a village flirting with the more sophisticated trappings of modernity but steeped in the traditions of its unforgettable inhabitants and their lives. There are the Ruttledges, who came from London in search of a different life on the edge of the village lake; John Quinn, who will stop at nothing to ensure a flow of women through his life; Jimmy Joe McKiernan, head of the local IRA as well as town auctioneer and undertaker; the gentle Jamesie and his wife, Mary, who have never left the lake and who know about everything that ever stirred or moved there; Patrick Ryan, the builder who never quite finishes what he starts; Bill Evans, the farmhand whose orphaned childhood was marked with state sanctioned cruelties and whose adulthood is marked by the scars; and the wealthiest man in town, known as the Shah. A year in the lives of these and other characters unfolds through the richly observed rituals of work and play, of religious observance and annual festivals, and the details of the changing seasons, of the cycles of birth and death. With deceptive simplicity and eloquence, the author reveals the fundamental workings of human nature as it encounters the extraordinary trials and pleasures, terrors and beauty, of ordinary life. By the Lake is John McGahern’s most ambitious, generous, and superbly realized novel yet.

Getting Through

Stories by one of the outstanding Irish writers of today, author of Nightlines, The Barracks, The Dark, The Leavetaking, The Po*rnographer, High Ground, Amongst Women nominated for the Booker Prize in 1990 and That They May Face the Rising Sun.

The Power of Darkness

In an old Irish farmhouse, the wealthy but ailing Peter King and his second young wife, Eileen are surrounded at close quarters by the smothering attentions of ‘interested’ parties, from Paddy the casual labourer to Paul, a handsome young workman.

The Collected Stories

These 34 funny, tragic, bracing, and acerbic stories represent the complete short fiction of one of Ireland’s finest living writers. On struggling farms, in Dublin’s rain drenched streets, or in parched exile in Franco’s Spain, McGahern’s characters wage a confused but touching war against the facts of life.


In his award winning novels and stories, John McGahern one of the greatest Irish writers The New York Times Book Review explores the ordinary lives of men and women to reveal the intricate workings of the human heart and mind. Now, in All Will Be Well, he turns to his own life, telling the story of his childhood in the Irish countryside and the beginnings of his life as a writer. McGahern grew up the eldest of seven children in County Leitrim, where North and South meet under the Iron Mountains. His early years were marked by his father’s violent nature, the selflessness of his mother a teacher of uncommon independence and the tragedy of her death when McGahern was only nine. With extraordinary poignancy, he describes her and how her love remained a source of strength for him and his siblings, helping them to survive their father s tyrannical rule and, ultimately, enabling them to break free into their own lives. McGahern traces his career as a writer as it takes him increasingly far from home to Dublin, London, Paris, Helsinki, Spain, the United States before it brings him back to the almost unchanged landscape in which he had grown up and which had indelibly shaped his life and work. His lyrical descriptions of the fields and quiet roads of his home catch the subtle beauty of one of Ireland s least known counties, while his portraits of its inhabitants are drawn with great insight and tenderness. The people and the language and landscape were like my breathing. All Will Be Well is a haunting, illuminating Memoir.

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