Flann O'Brien

Flann O'Brien was the pen name of Brian O'Nolan, an Irish novelist, playwright, and satirist, known for his dark humor and inventive use of language. Born on October 5, 1911, in Strabane, County Tyrone, he is considered a key figure in postmodern literature. His most famous works include 'At Swim-Two-Birds' and 'The Third Policeman'. O'Brien's writing was marked by its wit, playfulness, and metafictional qualities. He passed away on April 1, 1966.


This list of books are ONLY the books that have been ranked on the lists that are aggregated on this site. This is not a comprehensive list of all books by this author.

  1. 1. The Third Policeman

    "The Third Policeman" is a darkly comedic and surreal novel about a nameless narrator who, after committing a murder to raise funds for his scholarly obsession with a bizarre pseudo-scientific theory, finds himself wandering in an eerie, nightmarish landscape. He encounters strange characters, including a pair of eccentric policemen who are obsessed with bicycles, and becomes embroiled in a series of increasingly absurd and ludicrous situations. The novel explores themes of existence, reality, and the nature of hell, with a twist ending that forces the reader to question everything they've read.

  2. 2. At Swim Two-Birds

    This novel is a complex, metafictional work that weaves together three separate narratives. The first is about a lazy, hard-drinking college student living with his uncle, the second is about a devilish Pooka and a loquacious old man, and the third is about a fictional character named Finn who seeks revenge on his author for creating him poorly. The narratives eventually intersect in a unique and humorous way, challenging traditional ideas of story structure and character autonomy.

  3. 3. The Dalkey Archive

    In this satirical and surreal novel, the narrative weaves through a series of bizarre events in a small Irish town, where the protagonist encounters a reclusive scientist who has devised a way to suck all the oxygen out of the atmosphere, potentially ending the world. Meanwhile, characters including a philosopher who is rumored to be dead, a policeman obsessed with enforcing bicycle licenses, and a young man seeking to enter the priesthood, all contribute to the absurd and philosophical musings on existence, Irish identity, and the nature of reality. The book blends dark humor with deep existential questions, creating a unique tapestry that challenges the reader's perception of normalcy and the fabric of fiction.