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John McGahern

‘A glowing masterpiece.’ Hilary Mantel

‘Extraordinary … Spell-binding, spiritual.’ Irish Independent

‘Profoundly beautiful.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Magnificent … Stand[s] supreme in the Irish canon.’ Declan Kiberd, Irish Times

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‘As wise and compelling a book as any of his elegiac and graceful novels.’ David Mitchell

This is the story of John McGahern’s childhood; of his mother’s death, his father’s anger and bafflement, and his own discovery of literature.

‘Long before Frank McCourt made an entire industry out of twinkly eyed accounts of the poverty and institutionalised brutality of mid-twentieth-century rural Ireland, John McGahern, Ireland’s greatest living novelist, had already shone wise and unsparing light on this same world … Memoir is the full, unadorned story of his childhood and adolescence in Leitrim … His finest book yet.’ Stephanie Merritt, Observer

‘In a tremendously distinguished career, he has never written more movingly, or with a sharper eye.’ Andrew Motion, Guardian

‘I have admired, even loved, John McGahern’s work since his first novel … Memoir strips the skin off his fiction as he faces a desperate early life with great force and tenderness.’ Melvyn Bragg


Born in 1934, John McGahern was the eldest of seven children, raised on a farm in the West of Ireland. The son of a Garda sergeant who had served as an IRA volunteer in the Irish War of Independence, he was devastated by his mother’s death when he was nine. An outstanding student, McGahern studied at University College Dublin and…

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