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The Ginger Man ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (99)

Here are the ribald, picaresque (choose your own hackneyed adjective) adventures of Sebastian Dangerfield in Ireland and London, as he drinks & scrumps & sponges his way through life.  Perhaps it is unfair to Donleavy, but I happened to read this at the same time as I am listening to the audio version of Angela's Ashes , so I just didn't find it amusing when danger drank the family's food money & beat his wife and girlfriends & so on.

But even taken on it's own terms, it's just not a particularly entertaining book.


Grade: (D)


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This is an example of one of those books I did not like at all while I was reading, but it has somehow grown on me. I can't say I'll read another one of Donleavy's books, but I'm glad I finished this one.

- Kelly

- Feb-05-2007, 13:35


I kept an open mind in reading this book, and being Irish myself as well as a young woman, I had to keep a very open mind due to some of the content.

I found the book to be possibly one of the strangest I've ever read, but strange in a good way. There's certainly humour in it aplenty, and it seems to tug the reader's heart in two different directions; To follow Sebastian in trying to escape everyone and everything... only to discover the one thing you can't escape is yourself. Or to follow O' Keefe, and escape somewhere to better yourself, only to ultimately desire to come back to the place you love; regardless of it not being as prosperous as hoped for.

In reading this, I felt both a confused love for Ireland and the burning desire to escape it. This may or may not be the author's main thing to get across to the reader, but it was something I felt strongly throughout the whole book.

I would recommend it.. it makes you see yourself and your country in a different view. But as Orrin remarked, don't read it if you can't overcome some of the more racial/sexist overtones.


- Rosie, 23, Ireland.

- Jan-30-2006, 14:51


Donleavy is probably my favourite author - and one of the most underrated writers around. The Ginger Man is his most well-known but his best are A Singular Man and A Fairytale of New York.

He veers from broad comedy to pure poetry, although admittedly his overtly masculine style won't appeal to lots of people and will certainly alienate feminists. Also his books all tackle similar subjects, so if you don't like one, you won't like any of them. Conversely, if you love one of his books, you'll want to devour them all.

I guess his style could be summed up as the concerns of Hemingway in the style of the more accessible elements of James Joyce.


- May-13-2003, 09:21