Editor’s Choice: Irish writer’s novel held by Customs

From the archive (1965): A dark day for John McGahern


First published: May 6th, 1965

A CONSIGNMENT of the novel, “The Dark,” by the Irish writer, John McGahern, which was due to be on safe in Ireland today, has been held up by the Customs authorities pending a decision by the Censorship Board . Sale of the book will be delayed for at least four weeks.

The book is set in rural Ireland and deals with adolescence. A spokesman for the London publishers, Faber and Faber , said that its theme was “impelled forward by ambition and sexuality, guilty and uncontrolled, by a twisted puritanical and passionate religion, and above all by a strange, powerful and very vigorous relationship between a son and a widower father.”

A spokesman for Messrs. Eason and Son, Ltd., Dublin, said yesterday that their entire consignment of the book had been held up by the Customs for some days. The book was to be in Dublin bookshops today.

The novelist, who is at present abroad, is a native of Dublin. He is 30 years of age and has lived for a considerable time in the West of Ireland. He was the first Irish writer to receive the AE Memorial Award in 1962 for the opening chapters in his novel, “The Barracks.”

A spokesman for the Censorship Board said that the Customs authorities have power to hold books about to be circulated, pending their examination by the Board. The publishers said yesterday that they had been told that the books had been released and, on that information, they sent copies out by post to reviewers.