Rediscover: The Ginger Man

J.P. Donleavy, the American expatriate author who lived most of his life in Ireland, died on September 11 at age 91. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Donleavy moved to Ireland, where he attended Trinity College without earning a degree. His best known novel is The Ginger Man (1955), the story of a student at Trinity College whose racy exploits caused the book to be banned for obscenity in Ireland and the United States. Donleavy suffered numerous rejections for The Ginger Man before his friend, Irish novelist and poet Brendan Behan, suggested he send the manuscript to Olympia Press in Paris. The Ginger Man was published under Olympia's Traveler's Companion erotica imprint. Despite its saucy source, The Ginger Man went on to sell 45 million copies and was named among the 100 best novels of the 20th-century by the Modern Library. Donleavy's other works include A Singular Man (1963), The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B (1968), A Fairy Tale of New York (1973) and The Destinies of Darcy Dancer, Gentleman (1991), among other plays, novellas and nonfiction.

The Ginger Man follows Sebastian Dangerfield, an American student at Trinity College living in Dublin with his English wife and daughter, whose picaresque exploits involve extramarital relations, the dodging of bill collectors, plenty of drinking and a number of humorous ways to avoid the trap of steady employment. It was last published by Grove Press in 2010 with an introduction by Jay McInerney ($16, 9780802144669). --Tobias Mutter

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