The Ikon Maker

By: Desmond Hogan

Publication Date: February 2013


‘I think Hogan has learnt something from John McGahern in the way he constructs this simple and allusive story. Not a word is wasted or misplaced … The Ikon Maker is wonderfully assured: in its quiet, suggestive way it manages to say a great deal about Ireland … It is a tremendously affecting book.’ – Sebastian Faulks

With forty pounds he went back to England. Curlews cried in the bog next to Ballinasloe station. A taxi-man looked harassed – no work maybe. They kissed – slenderly. The train left. She walked away.

And so Diarmaid O’Hallrahan withdraws from his mother once more, as he returns to London just before his eighteenth birthday. In the quiet of her Galway home, Susan is forced to confront a ruptured relationship with her only son, and the ikons – feathers, beads, paper accumulated into shapes – marking the progress of his troubled childhood. As she pursues him across England, meeting friends and lovers left in his wake, she resigns herself to the man her son has become, and must face a new identity of her own.

In The Ikon Maker, a story about the dark complexities of love, the mysteries of sexuality, the anguishes of motherhood, Desmond Hogan conveys an unassailable truth about human experience: that nothing and no one can stay the same forever.

‘The Ikon Maker made Hogan’s name as one of the freshest new voices in Irish writing, and this sensitive treatment of emigration, suicide and loneliness is as relevant now as it was then.’ The Irish Times

‘His first novel, and a fine one it is, written with grace, compassion and a moving simplicity.’ Publishers Weekly


Desmond Hogan was born in Ballinasloe, East Galway, in December 1950. He has published five novels: The Ikon Maker (1976),The Leaves on Grey (1980), A Curious Street (1984), A New Shirt (1986) and A Farewell to Prague(1995), as well as four books of stories: The Diamonds at the Bottom of the Sea (1979), Children of Lir (1981), The Mourning Thief (1987) and Lebanon Lodge (1988), published in the USA in 1989 under the title A Link with the River. His travel writings, The Edge of the City, appeared in 1993. In 1971 he won the Hennessy Award, and in 1977 the Rooney Prize for Literature. He won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize in 1980 and was awarded a DAAD Fellowship in Berlin in 1991. In 1989 he was writer-in-residence at the University of Alabama, and in 1997 taught at the University of California, San Diego.

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Weight 0.25 kg
Dimensions 136 × 215 mm
Publication Date

February 2013