Donleavy, J. P.

Donleavy, J. P. (James Patrick Donleavy), 1926–2017, Irish-American novelist, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., studied Trinity College, Dublin. The son of Irish expatriates, he lived most of his life in Ireland and became (1967) an Irish citizen. Although Donleavy wrote 13 novels, several plays, and short stories, he is famous for his first novel, the darkly comic cult classic The Ginger Man (1955, play 1959). Richly alliterative, alternating between first and third person narration, and stylistically influenced by James Joyce, it chronicles the 1940s Dublin adventures of antihero Sebastian Dangerfield in his constant quest for booze, food, and women. Publishers repeatedly rejected it before it was published in Paris and became a worldwide best seller, though it was banned in Ireland and elsewhere and often expurgated. Other novels include A Singular Man (1963), The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B. (1968), The Onion Eaters (1971), A Fairy Tale of New York (1973), and a trilogy about Darcy Dancer, an Irish rake (1977–1990). Among his other books are a witty guide to proper manners, The Unexpurgated Code (1975); a satirical look at Ireland, A Singular Country (1989); and the history of the trials and tribulations of writing and publishing his first novel (1994).

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