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."


July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.


What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.