Critical Sources



Irish-American Literature

1952 film directed by John Ford (1894-1973), Irish-American director

Article on early Irish-American literature by Stacey Lee Donohoe

Irish-American authors who write specifically on Irish identity, sometimes identified with Catholicism:

James T. Farrell (1904-79), Studs Lonigan trilogy of novels portraying Irish-American life on Chicago’s South Side; named for central character. Individual titles: Young Lonigan (1932); The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan (1934); and Judgment Day (1935).

J. F. Powers (1917-99), fiction often concerning Catholic church and midwestern priests. Prince of Darkness and Other Stories (1947); Morte D'Urban (1963; National Book Award)

Edwin O'Connor (1918-68), novels concerning Irish-American politicians and priests: The Last Hurrah (1956 + screenplay for 1958 film); The Edge of Sadness (1961; Pulitzer Prize 1962)

Flannery O’Connor (1925-64). Novels: Wise Blood (1952), The Violent Bear it Away (1960); short story collections: A Good Man is Hard to Find (1955), Everything that Rises must Converge (1965) [themes and interests may be less Irish than Catholic]

Frank McCourt (1930-2009), Angela’s Ashes 1996 (Pulitzer for biography / autobiography)

Mary Gordon (b. 1949), Final Payments (1979), The Company of Women (1981), Men and Angels (1985), Pearl (2005); more novels, memoirs, fiction collections

Authors of Irish descent who may not emphasize Irish themes. Irish-American characters may appear.

Kate Chopin (1850-1904), fiction author: The Awakening (1899); of Louisiana Creole descent, her birth name was Katherine O'Flaherty

Henry James (1843-1916), Daisy Miller (1878), The Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Wings of the Dove (1902). (grandfather immigrated from Ireland, helped develop Erie Canal; later generations rapidly Anglicized.)

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), The Big Sleep (1939), The Long Goodbye (1954)

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), The Great Gatsby (1925), Tender is the Night (1934)

Betty Smith (1896-1972; born Elizabeth Wehner), A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1943; film 1945) concerning Brooklyn family. Biological father of family is an alcoholic singing waiter. After his death, the mother--child of Austrian immigrants--marries another Irish-American who is a successful businessman and politician.

John O'Hara (1905-1970), fiction author and playwright. Many early short stories set in coal region of Pennsylvania. Novels: Appointment in Samarra (1934), BUtterfield 8 (1930), Pal Joey (1940 novel > Broadway musical & later film)

Frank O'Hara (1926-66), poet of New York School, active also in music and visual arts

Jim Carroll

Tom Clancy

Mary Higgins Clark

Billy Collins

Pat Conroy

J. P. Donleavy

William Kennedy

Galway Kinnell

Thomas Lynch

Thomas McGuane

Jay McInerney

Terrence McNally

Margaret Mitchell

Mickey Spillane

John Kennedy Toole

Roger Zelazny

Frank Delaney (b. 1942), Ireland, a Novel (2007)

John Gorman

Andrew M. Greeley (1928-2013), priest, sociologist, journalist, author. The Cardinal Sins (1981); The Passover Trilogy (1982-84); The Priestly Sins (2004); A Stupid, Unjust, and Criminal War: Iraq 2001–2007 (2007)

Special Case:

Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953), son of an Irish immigrant father and an Irish-American mother, is the USA's greatest playwright, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936 as well as four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama. His early plays are impressively multicultural; his later, more autobiographical plays feature Irish-American characters and themes:

The Iceman Cometh, 1939, 1946

Long Day’s Journey into Night, 1941, 1956

A Moon for the Misbegotten, 1943

A Touch of the Poet, 1942, 1958

Associate Irish-American with stage 5 of Immigrant Narrative? [Rediscovery or reassertion of ethnic identity (usu. only partial)]

Compare Jews as half-in, half-out--compare Jewish-American prominence in mid-20c American literature, Irish Renaissance's prominence in early 20c English / British literature.

Assimilation is attractive for economic benefits (at cost of ethnic identity), but intimate or familiar social relations are defined separate ethnic identity including religion, neighborhood, language, extended family.