Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Ginger Man

by J.P. Donleavy Introduction by Jay McInerney

“A triumph of comic writing . . . no contemporary writer is better than Donleavy at his best.” —The New Yorker

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 352
  • Publication Date July 01, 2010
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-4466-9
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

Banned in the United States on its original appearance, J. P. Donleavy’s first novel has gone on to be internationally recognized as a masterpiece. Now marking sixty years since its first publication in Paris, it remains a witty, irresistible modern classic. Set in Ireland just after World War II, The Ginger Man is a wildly funny, picaresque story of the misadventures of Sebastian Dangerfield, a young American ne’er-do-well studying at Trinity College in Dublin. He barely has time for his studies as he avoids bill collectors, makes love to almost anything in a skirt, and tries to survive without having to descend into the bottomless pit of steady work. Dangerfield’s appetite for women, liquor, and general roguishness is insatiable—and he satisfies it with endless charm.

Tags Literary


“Sebastian Dangerfield [is] one of the most outrageous scoundrels of contemporary fiction, a whoring, boozing young wastrel.” —Time

“A wild and unpredictable outburst.” —Saturday Review

“A comic masterpiece.” —The Nation

“Brilliant, lusty and wildly funny.” —Dorothy Parker, Esquire

“The adventures of one incorrigible Sebastian Dangerfield. Unruly, willful, and wholly devious. This lyrical, comic wonder was introduced to me by Hunter [S. Thompson]. Every man should read this, and spend at least one evening in his life impersonating this unapologetic horror of an individual!” —Johnny Depp, “My Essentials” in Entertainment Weekly‘s “Best of the Decade” issue (December 11, 2009)

“Nasty and lyrical, a curse that sounds suspiciously like a prayer, this outlandish hybrid of Irish-American letters is still armed and dangerous after thirty years. Sebastian Dangerfield, the lecherous, treacherous, larcenous and thoroughly charming Ginger Man, appears to be immortal as well as immoral.” —Jay McInerney

“A triumph of comic writing . . . no contemporary writer is better than Donleavy at his best.” —The New Yorker

“It is one of the books which reveal their quality from the first line. On every page there is that immediacy all good writing has.” —V.S. Naipaul


Today a rare sun of spring. And horse carts clanging to the quays down Tara Street and the shoeless white faced kids screaming.

O’Keefe comes in and climbs up on a stool. Wags his knapsack around on his back and looks at Sebastian Dangerfield.

“Those tubs are huge over there. First bath for two months. I’m getting more like the Irish every day. Like going on the subway in the States, you go through a turnstile.”

“Did you go first or third class, Kenneth?”

“First. I broke my ass washing my underwear and in those damn rooms in Trinity nothing will dry. In the end I sent my towel to the laundry. Back at Harvard I could nip into a tiled shower and dive into nice clean underwear.”

“What will you have to drink, Kenneth?”

“Who’s paying?”

“Just been to visit my broker with an electric fire.”

“Then buy me a cider. Does Marion know you’ve hocked the fire?”

“She’s away. Took Felicity with her to visit her parents. On the moors in Scotland. I think the Balscaddoon was getting her down. Scrabbling on the ceiling and groans from under the floor.”

“What’s it like out there? Does it freeze your balls?”

“Come out. Stay for the weekend. Not much in the way of food but you’re welcome to whatever I’ve got.”

“Which is nothing.”

“I wouldn’t put it that way.”

“I would. Since I’ve arrived here everything has been down and these guys at Trinity think I’m loaded with dough. They think the G.I. Bill means I crap dollars or a diarrhea of dimes. You get your check?”

“Going to see about it Monday.”

“If mine doesn’t come, I’ll croak. And you’re saddled with a wife and child. Wow. But at least you get it steady. And I’ve never got it at all. Any loose women out there on Howth?”

“I’ll keep a watch.”

“Look I’ve got to go and see my tutor and see if I can find out where they hold my Greek lectures. Nobody knows, everything is secret. No more drink for me. I’ll come out over the weekend.”

“Kenneth, I might have your first woman waiting for you.”