Frank Delaney

The Irish author on stories to return to again and again.


Before turning his hand to novels, Frank Delaney had made his name as a broadcaster, reporting on the "Troubles" in Ireland and Northern Ireland in the 1970s, and later developing such innovative programs on language, culture, and history as Word of Mouth and The Celts. His first book, James Joyce's Odyssey, appeared in 1970, and his recent novels Ireland, Tipperary and Shannon have been international bestsellers. His latest, The Matchmaker of Kenmare, follows a mystery into the heart of rural Ireland, in the midst of World War Two. Frank Delaney shared with us three of his favorite works of fiction.


Books by Frank Delaney




The Great Gatsby

By F. Scott Fitzgerald


"The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, remains the most perfect novel that has ever come out of the United States. Everything in the book moves as it should, in the manner of a piece by Bach or Mozart. All the images and metaphors click and whirr like the parts of a shiny machine; and in a book so slim it is astonishing always to find something new by way of moral power."




By James Joyce


"Every week, on my website, I upload a specifically unpretentious podcast designed to deconstruct James Joyce's mighty novel, Ulysses, reference by reference, so that I can share this gigantic pleasure. If it takes me twenty-five years, that will be wonderful, because I have never learned as much from any literary resource and have never had so much happiness while examining any work of art."



The Day of the Jackal

By Frederick Forsyth


"The Day of the Jackal, by Frederick Forsyth, has lasted in my esteem as the finest thriller written in my lifetime. How can we not be hooked by the central conceit—that we know President Charles de Gaulle wasn't assassinated? We puzzle out the mixture of fact and fiction willingly. We accept the commonplace journalistic details as part of the plot. Finally we may even believe it all happened—because we want to believe it. That's writerly power."


April 18: "[W]ould it be too bold to imagine that all warm-blooded animals have arisen from one living filament…?"

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.