“I have always taken my cue from Joyce in that books should dance and be amusing too”
Patrick McCabe was born in Clones, County Monaghan.
His first book, a children’s story, The Adventures of Shay Mouse was published in 1985 followed by adult novels Music on Clinton Street (1986) and Carn (1989).
The Butcher Boy, the highly lyrical tale of the descent of a young mind into madness, was published by Picador in 1992 to widespread critical and popular acclaim and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The book was also adapted into a very successful stage play Frank Pig Says Hello and was adapted for the big screen by Neil Jordan.
This was followed in 1995 by The Dead School a novel which tells of the macabre relationship between two teachers which proves fatal to their fortunes and sanity.
Breakfast on Pluto, telling the colourful story of Patrick "Pussy" Braden was published in 1998 and was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize and adapted for the big screen by Neil Jordan.
Patrick also wrote a collection of linked short stories, Mondo Desperado, published in 1999. Emerald Germs of Ireland was published in 2001 and Call Me the Breeze published by Faber in 2003.
Bringing us inside the uneasy mind of unreliable narrator Redmond Hatch, Winterwood was published by Bloomsbury in 2006 and went on to become the 2007 Hughes & Hughes/Irish Independent Irish Novel of the Year.
2009 saw the publication of The Holy City followed by The Stray Sod Country in 2010.
Two stories from two deceased narrators featured in Hello and Goodbye: Hello Mr Bones / Goodbye Mr Rat was published by Quercus in 2013.
Described as “a backwoods sinfonia of rough poetry and black comedy” Heartland Patrick’s tribute to the Irish Appalachians, was published by New Island Books in April 2018 and his latest novel The Big Yaroo which revisits an older Francie Brady, of The Butcher Boy was published.
Patrick’s latest novel Poguemahone was published by Unbound in April 2022.
“When I eventually got around to writing the psychedelic jig that had been clattering for many ears offstage in the shadows I didn’t quite anticipate it turning out to be narrated by the otherworldly offspring of Syd Barrett and Kitty The Hare, the former being the English genius founder of Pink Floyd and the latter being the hooded fleeting mountain woman storyteller of old Munster. Except that there isn’t, among its pages, a commodity quite so mundane as “Time.” POGUEMAHONE is Blind Raftery guesting with King Crimson, anarchically piping at the gates of some smouldering yet-to-be dawn. I hope that readers will be taken on a journey as high as those of Rupert Bear in a coloured hot air balloon somewhere over the verdant rolling meadows of Cambridgeshire, home of the radical English musical pastorale, and where on a good day you can hear beyond the clouds the skirling, portal-opening uilleann pipes of O'Carolan, lamenting the passing of all those seventies mortals along with those who have yet to be.”
Patrick’s books have been translated into over a dozen languages. Several of his radio plays have been broadcast by RTÉ and BBC Radio 4.
The director and novelist Neil Jordan has adapted both The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto into films. Patrick also has two extraordinary musicals in development -Breakfast On Pluto, along with Landmark Prods and a Twilight Zone-inspired jazz rendering of The Butcher Boy by Asher Muldoon.
Patrick resides in Ireland with his wife, the artist Margot Quinn
Praise for The Butcher Boy
“Brilliant, unique . . . reading fiction will never be the same again”
“The most astonishing Irish novel for many years, a masterpiece”
“The Butcher Boy takes Irish literature to a place it has never been before. Both familiar and extraordinary, it is the most significant novel to emerge from Ireland this decade “
“An insidious, funny, breathtakingly horrific novel set in small-town Ireland, switching from mischief to madness as an adolescent obsession turns Dennis the Menace into Jack the Ripper”
“An intense, disturbing and original novel . . . prose which races yet lets you miss nothing”
“Compelling, unashamedly horrible, memorable and sensitive”
Times Literary Supplement
Praise for Breakfast on Pluto
"Breakfast on Pluto" may be the most successful book yet to be born out of the violence [in Northern Ireland]...Stunning originality"
New York Times Book Review
"Mr. McCabe is the lodestone of new Irish fiction, a writer capable of integrating the history and traditions of his country and its literature with the mad whirl of politics and pop culture."
Wall Street Journal
"A screamingly funny look at a deadly reality."
"By turns hilarious and pitiably lonely, Patrick ["Pussy" Braden] is an unforgettable hero."
"A surreal romp...An unsettling claustrophobic novel in which McCabe imaginatively distils Northern Ireland’s public horrors as he compels us to inhabit Patrick Braden’s private nightmare."
"[A] careening picaresque...antic debauch and sudden terror. Pussy’s voice throughout is delightfully unhinged in its match of high camp and the poetic pretensions of the Irish barfly."
The New Yorker
"An unsparing account of Irish realities. [A] moving, brilliantly told tale...full of human comedy and cruelty."
Washington Post Book World
"Murderous whimsy...[McCabe] has pierced the heart of blackness with satire."
Praise for Winterwood
“Winterwood is that rarest thing: a novel dealing with humanity at its most twisted and bleak, but one that leaves the reader feeling curiously uplifted. And that’s because we realise that we’ve been standing in an illuminating beam whose source is, and can only be, truly great art.”
Irvine Welsh" - The Guardian
"An eerily kaleidoscopic mix that reads like a modern rendering of Poe."
"McCabe has written a brilliant and disturbing profile of an individual and a place in often violent transition."
"He is the fortunate possessor of a savage and unfettered imagination; his books dissect life's miseries with a gleaming comedic scalpel."
Praise for Hello and Goodbye: Hello Mr Bones / Goodbye Mr Rat
“Exuberant and witty ... Deserves to rekindle his former glories”
“McCabe is a master ... Stark, fierce, and wonderful”
“Sees the master of the Irish gothic genre return to his best form”
Praise for Heartland
“He writes like an Irish Lenny Bruce... The stories McCabe tells have a terrible beauty.”
The New York Times
Praise for The Big Yaroo
“Brilliantly dark book”
“Brutal, disturbing and at times hilarious, The Big Yaroo is a rollercoaster of a read”
“Gloriously deranged, wired to the moon, truly inspired - this is a beautiful comeback for Francie B”
“Bombastically zany and brilliantly annoying, this twatcap coddle of barmy characters, strange facts and hilarious scenarios, would make you forget the pain of festering away in an Irish institution and the real energy required for survival. I laughed and laughed until I remembered to feel just a tiny bit sad”
“Any reader who, like me, has been moved, changed, by the experience of reading The Butcher Boy will feel impelled towards this novel by a character who, many decades of incarceration and anti-psychotic drugs later, is still the Francie Brady that, joyously, unbearably, we recognise”.
“Pat McCabe, the generous genius of contemporary Irish letters, catches us up with Francie Brady, and old man now, but still a thrill in these days of digital babble”
“Hilarious, touching and terrifying, The Big Yaroo charts the final, geriatric disintegration of a perpetual childhood. The most distinctive voice in Irish literature has returned: Francie Brady rides again!”
“Dark, irreverent, sharp and energetic—Pat McCabe’s exceptional gifts remain unparalleled”.
The Butcher Boy: MacMillan (UK, commonwealth), Darkside Entretenimento Ltda M (Brazil),Aquarius Publishing Ltd (complex Chinese), Saga- Lindhardt og Ringhof (Denmark), Asphalte Editions (France), Kalligram (Hungary), Kokushokankokai inc (Japan), Viche Books Korea (Korea), Booka (Serbia), Kalligram (Slovakia), Nurcihan Kesim (Turkey),
The Dead School: MacMillan (UK, commonwealth),
Breakfast On Pluto: MacMillan (UK, commonwealth), Aquarius Publishing Ltd (Complex Chinese), Varrak Publishers Ltd (Estonia), Fandango (Italy), Nova Vega Editor (Portugal), Kalligram (Slovakia),
Mondo Desperado: MacMillan (UK, Commonwealth),Viche Books Korea(Korea),
Emerald Germs Of Ireland: MacMillan (UK, Commonwealth),
Call Me The Breeze: Faber (UK, Commomwealth), HarperCollins(USA)
Winterwood: Bloomsbury (UK, Commonwealth, US), Sysprint (Croatia), Host Vydavatelsttvi s.r.o (Czech Republic),Ediciones Urano (Spain),
The Holy City: Bloomsbury (UK, Germany, Commonwealth, US)
Bloomsbury (UK, Germany, Commonwealth, US)
Hello and Goodbye: Hello Mr Bones / Goodbye Mr Rat Quercus (UK, Commonwealth, US)
Heartland (New Island Books)
The Big Yaroo (New Island Books)