The Greatest Irish "Social & Cultural Fiction, Fiction" Books Since 1980

Click to learn how this list is calculated.

This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

Filter by: Genres Dates Countries
Follow on:

Genres

Social & Cultural Fiction

Social & Cultural Fiction is a literary category that encompasses novels and stories that delve into the complexities of society and culture, exploring themes such as class, race, gender, and identity within specific social contexts. These narratives often provide a lens through which readers can examine the intricacies of human relationships and the impact of cultural norms and societal structures on individuals and communities. By offering a fictional yet reflective portrayal of real-world social dynamics, this genre invites readers to gain a deeper understanding of the diverse experiences that shape our world. Authors in this category frequently use their characters and settings to comment on contemporary issues, challenge prevailing ideologies, and provoke thought about the possibility of social change, making Social & Cultural Fiction a powerful tool for empathy and a mirror for the ever-evolving human condition.

Fiction

Add additional genre filters

Countries

Irish

Add additional country filters

Date Range

Filter

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download
  1. 1. Amongst Women by John McGahern

    "Amongst Women" is a novel that tells the story of Michael Moran, a bitter, aging Irish Republican Army (IRA) veteran, and his relationships with his wife and five children. The narrative explores themes of family, power, love, and the struggle between freedom and control. Moran's domineering personality and the effects of his past experiences in the IRA have a profound impact on his family, shaping their lives and relationships in complex and often destructive ways.

    The 844th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Master by Colm Tóibín

    "The Master" is a fictionalized biography of the renowned author Henry James, chronicling his life from 1895 to 1899. The narrative delves into James' personal life, his relationships, and his struggles with his craft. The book reveals his inner thoughts and feelings, his unfulfilled desires, and his deep-seated fears. It also explores his relationships with his family, friends, and some of the most prominent figures of his time. The narrative is a deep, introspective exploration of a complex, introverted character, and the world in which he lived.

    The 1133rd Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

    Set in 1960s Dublin, the novel follows the life of a ten-year-old boy as he navigates through the adventures and trials of childhood. The protagonist's world is one of mischief, discovery, and familial relationships, but as his parents' marriage crumbles, he is forced to deal with adult realities. The narrative is marked by the boy's growing understanding of the world around him, his loss of innocence, and his attempts to keep his family together.

    The 1780th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín

    The novel tells the story of a young Irish woman, Eilis Lacey, in the 1950s who, unable to find work at home, is sent to Brooklyn by a helpful priest where she builds a new life. She finds work, studies to become a bookkeeper, and falls in love with an Italian plumber named Tony. However, a family tragedy forces her to return to Ireland, where she must choose between her new life in America and her old life at home.

    The 2640th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. The Gathering by Anne Enright

    "The Gathering" is a powerful and evocative family saga set in Ireland, exploring the complex dynamics of a large Irish family following the suicide of one of the siblings. The story is narrated by Veronica, the sister of the deceased, who delves into her family's past, uncovering a traumatic event that has shaped their lives. The narrative is a mix of present events, childhood memories, and imagined scenarios, all of which contribute to a profound exploration of memory, truth, and the bonds of family.

    The 3088th Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill

    "Netherland" is a post-9/11 novel set in New York City, which explores the life of a Dutch banker named Hans. After his wife and son move back to London, Hans becomes immersed in the world of cricket, where he befriends a charismatic Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon who dreams of building a cricket stadium in the city. The novel is a meditation on the American Dream, identity, and the immigrant experience, all set against the backdrop of a city and a country grappling with a new reality.

    The 3787th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. That They May Face the Rising Sun by John McGahern

    This book tells the story of a couple who have moved from London to rural Ireland to live a quiet and peaceful life. Their days are filled with simple pleasures and the beauty of the natural world. However, their tranquility is occasionally disrupted by the complex relationships and struggles of their neighbors. The novel offers a deeply moving exploration of love, loss, and the relentless passage of time.

    The 5189th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin

    This novel delves into the complexities of family dynamics, reconciliation, and the AIDS crisis in 1990s Ireland. It tells the story of a young man who, after being diagnosed with AIDS, retreats to his grandmother's house in a small Irish village to spend his final days. His estrangement from his family is challenged when his sister and mother come to care for him, leading to a poignant exploration of unresolved tensions, the power of forgiveness, and the strength of familial bonds in the face of adversity and societal prejudice. Through its intimate portrayal of a family's struggle, the narrative weaves a compelling tale of love, loss, and the search for understanding.

    The 6506th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

    The novel is a poignant exploration of an adulterous affair set against the backdrop of the economic downturn in Ireland. It follows the story of Gina Moynihan as she reflects on her passionate, yet complicated relationship with Sean Vallely, a man she meets at a party and with whom she embarks on an affair, despite both being married to other people. The narrative delves into themes of love, desire, and the consequences of their illicit relationship, particularly in the context of Sean's ailing daughter, Evie, who becomes a symbol of the affair's impact on the families involved. The story is a candid and lyrical examination of the intricacies of marriage, memory, and the choices that shape our lives.

    The 6572nd Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Surrogate City by Hugo Hamilton

    "Surrogate City" is a thought-provoking novel that explores the complexities of identity and belonging. Set in a futuristic world where people can transfer their consciousness into robotic bodies, the story follows a young man named Jack who becomes a surrogate for a wealthy family. As Jack navigates his new life, he grapples with questions of authenticity, love, and the true meaning of being human. With its captivating narrative and philosophical undertones, the book offers a unique perspective on the future of technology and the essence of humanity.

    The 6587th Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson

    Set in Belfast during the tumultuous end of the Troubles, the novel is a tale of friendship, love, and the complexities of life in a city riven by political and sectarian strife. It follows the lives of two friends from different backgrounds—one Catholic, one Protestant—as they navigate the challenges of daily life amidst the violence and social upheaval of their environment. Their personal stories of romance, loss, and the search for meaning are interwoven with dark humor and a deep sense of humanity, offering a poignant reflection on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

    The 6848th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. This Side Of Brightness by Colum McCann

    The novel delves into the lives of tunnel diggers beneath New York City at the turn of the 20th century, juxtaposing their stories with those of their descendants in the 1990s. It explores themes of racial tension, poverty, and the enduring human spirit through the interwoven narratives of a black sandhog who survives a harrowing tunnel collapse and his grandson, grappling with a life on the fringes of society. As the tale unfolds, it reveals the deep connections between past and present, and the invisible threads that bind the city's history to the fates of its inhabitants.

    The 6972nd Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

    "A Girl Is A Half Formed Thing" is a powerful and experimental novel that delves into the psyche of a young woman as she navigates through a tumultuous and abusive childhood, her complex relationship with her mentally and physically disabled brother, and her own journey towards self-discovery and identity. Written in a unique stream-of-consciousness style, the book explores themes of trauma, sexuality, religion, and resilience, offering a raw and unflinching portrayal of the human experience.

    The 8410th Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride

    This novel explores the passionate, tumultuous relationship between an 18-year-old Irish drama student and a successful actor twenty years her senior in 1990s London. Their intense connection is complicated by the actor's dark past, filled with addiction and abuse, which threatens to destroy the fragile love they share. As they navigate their relationship, they must confront their own insecurities, fears, and desires, ultimately leading to a profound transformation for both.

    The 9007th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. This Is Happiness by Niall Williams

    Set in a remote Irish village, the novel unfolds through the eyes of a young man who, during a transformative summer, witnesses the arrival of electricity and the changes it brings to the community. As the village buzzes with anticipation and skepticism, the protagonist also encounters personal growth and the complexities of love, as he is drawn into the lives and stories of the local inhabitants. The narrative is a poignant exploration of progress and tradition, the power of memory, and the bittersweet nature of coming-of-age, all set against a backdrop of lyrical landscapes and the whimsical charm of rural Ireland.

    The 10012th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. A Shock by Keith Ridgway

    "A Shock" by Keith Ridgway is a dark and unsettling novel that explores the interconnected lives of various characters in a small Irish town. Through a series of fragmented narratives, the book delves into themes of violence, isolation, and the destructive power of secrets. With its lyrical prose and intricate storytelling, the novel offers a thought-provoking examination of human nature and the complexities of human relationships.

    The 10630th Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

    "The Glorious Heresies" is a darkly comedic novel set in post-recession Ireland, chronicling the interconnected lives of a cast of colorful characters. When a accidental murder takes place, the lives of a gangster, a prostitute, a teenage drug dealer, and a mother struggling to survive become entangled in a web of secrets and lies. As their paths converge, they are forced to confront the consequences of their actions and grapple with the complexities of love, redemption, and forgiveness in a gritty and unforgiving world.

    The 10711th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!

Download

If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

Download