Kathleen MacMahon is an acclaimed international bestselling novelist and short story writer.
Her first novel, This Is How it Ends, was published to great critical acclaim in 2011. It was a Number One Bestseller for five weeks in Ireland and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick in the UK. It was also nominated for two Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, and for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year. This Is How It Ends was translated into over twenty languages.
Her second novel, The Long, Hot Summer, was published in 2014 and also became a bestseller.
Her third novel, Nothing But Blue Sky was published in July to widespread critical acclaim and was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Her short stories have been published in The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times and The Lonely Crowd, among others.
Kathleen’s new novel The Home Scar was acquired by Penguin Sandycove and was published in February 2023.
A former journalist with Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ, Kathleen is the grand daughter of the short story writer Mary Lavin.
Praise for ‘This Is How It Ends’
“When you have long forgotten many other fictional lovers, there is something about Addie and Bruno, their past and their world, that will not go away’
Maeve Binchy, The Irish Times
"It's impossible to look away from this love story – it is unexpectedly quirky, grown-up but pleasingly whimsical. This is How It Ends will leave you feeling utterly bereft to no longer be in its company."
The Guardian/Nicola Barr
"I was moved by 'This Is How It Ends', a tender - but never sentimental - story of unlikely love."
"The issues the book raises are the eternal ones of loss, deceit and inadequacy. MacMahon’s prose fizzes from page one, capturing the imagination and holding the reader."
Vanessa Berridge/The Express
"A unique romance that can't fail to enchant you..."
“MacMahon's narrative is about unexpected love, but mainly it's about transformation, from success to its opposite, from being alone to being part of a family—however dysfunctional—and about “a time filled with the magic of possibility, a time equally fraught with danger....Perhaps only the churlish among us could find fault in a love story that unfolds to a Bruce Springsteen soundtrack on the shores of Dublin Bay”
Nancy Wigston, Toronto Star
“MacMahon's journalist eye enhances the political and historical backdrop of her novel. Readers mourning the loss of Irish author Maeve Binchy may find a new friend in MacMahon, who delivers a similar sort of family drama well suited to drowsy afternoons and a cup of tea with a packet of tissues nearby”
Carol Memmott, USA Today
“MacMahon writes movingly about the balm of hope and the redemption of love, about the very real pain of loss and the restorative power of family and, not half as oddly as it might sound, the power and insight of Bruce Springsteen”
Lorraine Courtney, Sunday Independent
"A book that takes your breath away."
"This richly poetic first novel combines a strong contemporary feel with a sense of timelessness. The action is set in Dublin against the gathering clouds of financial recession and optimism of Obama’s 2008 election victory. The issues the book raises are the eternal ones of loss, deceit and inadequacy. MacMahon’s prose fizzes from page one, capturing the imagination and holding the reader."
Vanessa Berridge/The Express
"This is a beautiful, humorous, gentle love story that's on a nose-bleedingly higher level than your average romance. Reading this means being slowly lulled and then swept away to book heaven where the greatest sadness will be finishing it and having to leave everyone in it behind. I know – I'm underselling this aren't I?"
Ani Johnson, The Book Bag
"MacMahon's great strengths are often in what she doesn't do. She doesn't cripple her cleanly styled writing by saddling it with unwieldy metaphors. She doesn't push her characters through endless plot hoops in a dizzying, unrealistic fashion. And she doesn't pretend that life for her characters is hunky-dory."
Nadine O'Regan, The Sunday Business Post
Praise for The Long Hot Summer
“I absolutely loved ‘The Long Hot Summer’ — it’s the best book I’ve read all year”
Sue Leonard/The Examiner
“..a fierce, gorgeous work of fiction…”
Dawn Tripp, author of Georgia
“There is a dark and contemplative voice skilfully hidden at the heart of this book….”
The Irish Independent
“Breezy, perceptive, light-footed.”
“The characters are so real that you become part of their lives and tragedies.”
Praise for Nothing But Blue Sky
A "sublime blend of tragic and sharply comic…Not only my favourite novel of the year, but possibly of the decade. "
Margaret Madden, The Sunday Independent
“Sure and subtle, MacMahon holds the reader in her spell. She is a born storyteller”
"What a beautiful novel...Elegant, understated, subtly powerful and rings so perfectly true."
"Insightful and deeply moving ...I loved this book."
Christine Dwyer Hickey
"Explores the complexities of the human heart and reveals how even in the depths of grief, unexpected light can emerge."
"A stunning depiction of marriage from inside and out."
"Absorbing, emotionally resonant...a marvellous achievement."
"In prose that is elegant and understated, Kathleen Mac Mahon illuminates the life of this man, now stripped of his certainties and statistics, as he attempts come to terms with the extraordinary physicality of his grief...."
"A beautiful read...... the writing is exquisite....there's barely a page without a description or a phrase that's worth re-reading.....MacMahon's precise prose lifts the lid on the cliches and societal mores around our response to death, probing with a surgeon's skill at the rawness underneath..."
John Walshe, Business Post
"...an acutely observed portrait of a relationship....the novel is full of beautiful prose, powerful metaphors and astute observations of human behaviour...."
Julia Kelly, The Irish Times
......"Its tragic theme is softened by MacMahon's tender-hearted storytelling and the effect is touching and enthralling."
Penny Perrick, The Sunday Times.
"David is a wonderfully convincing character, and although this painfully acute portrait of grief has moments of bleakness, it's also full of humour and brims with the warmth of family, friendship and the possibility of second chances..." The People. "A piece of perfection - a subtle, thought-provoking investigation of a marriage. It rings true. It's the best book I've read this year...."
Sue Leonard, The Examiner
Praise for The Home Scar:
“She is a natural storyteller, knowing when to withhold or indulge. Her writing is understated and precise, full of cadence.. There’s a superb authenticity to each of the voices in The Home Scar.. If one of the traits of a great novelist is their insight into the human condition, MacMahon has it in spades. Even the difficult characters in the book are understood on multiple levels… a powerful story about legacy, loss and the possibility of reconciliation”
The Irish Times
“Memory as unreliable narrator was central to MacMahon’s excellent novel ‘Nothing But Blue Sky’. She returns to that theme in ‘The Home Scar’. But this is a much finer and infinitely more ambitious work, with a bigger cast and a more intricate storyline. And just as David in Blue Sky is challenged in his memory of his dead wife as uncanonised saint, so these siblings are challenged to re-evaluate their childhood memories and finally emerge from their mother’s shadow”
The Sunday Independent
“Like MacMahon’s previous, superb novel ‘Nothing But Blue Sky’, ‘The Home Scar’ is a delicately observed portrait of memory, how perspectives take shape and how each of us processes and responds to our experiences.. ‘The Home Scar’ is a thoughtful, understated novel,..it has a quiet power all its own”
The Irish Independent
“MacMahon’s novel is full of minutely observed moments… Her exploration of connection, to each other and the ones we’ve lost, is also sensitively done and wrapped in the rich storytelling that has made her a notable name in Irish literature”
RTE.ie, Book of The Week
“Her beautifully simple style belies psychological complexity . . . and her tone is wryly accepting”
“Subtle and authentic”
“A gorgeous story of sibling love. I thoroughly enjoyed following Cassie and Christo's quest to discover the tangled roots of a past that binds them together”
“Kathleen MacMahon's subject is memory itself: how we remember - and the impact upon our future lives when our memories deceive us. Compassionate and poignant, The Home Scar is a work of considerable moral power”
“A very grown-up novel about life and love, of course, and above all, the repercussions of a disrupted childhood . . . a real tour de force”
Christine Dwyer Hickey
“An intriguing, meticulous and generation-spanning story of love, loss and healing . . . readers will be surprised and delighted.”
“An exceptional novel by one of Ireland’s foremost literary talents. A book not to be missed.”
“A real treat . . . no one does delicately detailed observation like Kathleen MacMahon.”
“Wonderful. Funny, tender and beautifully written.”
“A deftly realized and persuasive meditation on how our past never quite relinquishes our present, The Home Scar once again displays Kathleen MacMahon’s gimlet-eyed understanding of grown-up frailty.”
This Is How It Ends
Little Brown (UK, Commonwealth), Grand Central Publishing (USA), Editora Nova Fronteira Particpacoes S.A (Brazil),Modern Press (Chinese- Complex),China Times (Chinese- Simplified), China Times (Chinese- Traditional), Profil Multimedia (Croatia), Euromedia (Czech Republic), Bazar Forlag /(Cappelen Damm AS) (Denmark), Bazar Forlag /(Cappelen Damm AS) (Finland) Editions Jean-Claude Lattes (France), Droemersche Verlagsanstalt (Germany), Klidarithmos Publications E.P.E (Greece), Uitgeverij Boekerij Br (Holland), Kossuth Publishing Corporatiom (Hungary), RCS Libra (Italy), Shogakukan Inc (Japan), Munhak Segyesa (Korea), Bazar Forlag /(Cappelen Damm AS) (Norway), Wydawnictwo Bukowy Las Sp (Poland), Editora Presenca (Portugal), Azbooka- Atticus Publishing (Russia), Ikar A.S (Slovakia), Ediciones B.S.A (Spain), Bazar Forlag /(Cappelen Damm AS) (Sweden),
The Long Hot Summer
Little Brown (UK, Commonwealth), Grand Central Publishing (USA), Editora Nov Fronteira Particpacoes S.A (Brazil), Droemersche Verlagsanstalt (Germany), Editions Jean-Claude Lattes (France),
Nothing But Blue Sky
Penguin Books Limited (UK, Commonwealth),Bazar Forlag / Cappelen Damm As (Norway),