The Ginger Man
The Sixtieth Anniversary Edition
By: J.P. Donleavy
Sixtieth Anniversary Edition with foreword by Johnny Depp
As Brendan Behan edited – without permission – the manuscript that would become The Ginger Man, he predicted that it was destined to ‘go around the world, and beat the bejaysus out of the Bible’. Behan got the first part right. Since its first publication in 1955, more than 40 million copies of the novel have been sold and it has brought more (mostly American) tourists to Dublin’s Trinity College (where it was set) than the Book of Kells. To celebrate its sixtieth year of publication, as its author approaches his ninetieth, The Lilliput Press marks the occasion with a new, beautifully enanced hardback edition.
The Ginger Man is simply one of the great comic novels of post-war Europe – an anarchic, light-hearted, rambunctious twentieth-century classic following the social and sexual peregrinations of a footloose American student on the streets and in the pubs of Dublin. Dorothy Parker wrote of it, ‘stunning . . . brilliant . . . The Ginger Man is the picaresque novel to stop them all. Lusty, violent, wildly funny, it is a rigadoon of rascality, a bawled-out comic song of sex’.
As well as the original text it has a foreword by the actor and director Johnny Depp, who plans to produce a film version; an introduction by novelist Sean O’Reilly; an exchange of letters between Donleavy and the late Arland Ussher; a selection of archival photographs from Dublin and TCD in the early 1950s, and features pages from the original manuscript. This edition will also include an illustrated essay on ‘The publishing odyssey of The Ginger Man’ by bibliographer and archivist Bill Dunn. This details the book’s fraught origins, battles against censorship and multiple foreign translations from Korea to China, Finland and farther afield. The book, banned in Ireland until 1968, was published in the Irish Independent’s Great Irish Writers Series and has been cited as one of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century.