Picture of author.

John O'Hara (1) (1905–1970)

Author of Appointment in Samarra

For other authors named John O'Hara, see the disambiguation page.

129+ Works 6,200 Members 106 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

John Henry O'Hara was born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on January 31, 1905. Many of his novels and short stories were set in fictionally named Pennsylvania towns with the main themes centering on class conflict and status. He began writing for the New Yorker in 1928; and during his life, sold 225 show more stories to the magazine. His first collection, The Doctor's Son and Other Stories (1935) was followed by twelve more. Pal Joey (1940) was made into a Broadway musical by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart and later was adapted into a film starring Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth. Some of his published novels include Appointment in Samarra (1934), A Rage to Live (1949), The Lockwood Concern (1965), and The Good Samaritan and Other Stories (published posthumously in 1974). Ten North Frederick (1955) won the National Book Award and Butterfield 8 (1935) and From the Terrace (1958) were adapted into movies in 1960. He died from cardiovascular disease on April 11, 1970. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by John O'Hara

Appointment in Samarra (1934) — Author — 1,819 copies, 44 reviews
BUtterfield 8: A Novel (1935) 805 copies, 16 reviews
Ten North Frederick (1955) 303 copies, 6 reviews
A Rage to Live (1949) 228 copies, 7 reviews
From the Terrace (1958) 223 copies, 2 reviews
Sermons and Soda-Water (1960) 164 copies, 4 reviews
The Instrument (1967) 132 copies, 1 review
The Lockwood Concern (1965) 120 copies, 1 review
Pal Joey (1939) — Author — 99 copies, 1 review
The Big Laugh (1962) 96 copies
The Horse Knows the Way (1961) 82 copies
Ourselves to Know (1960) 81 copies
The Hat on the Bed (1995) 77 copies
The Cape Cod Lighter (1961) 75 copies
Hope of Heaven (1935) 69 copies, 6 reviews
Elizabeth Appleton (1963) 67 copies
The O'Hara Generation (1969) 66 copies
Waiting for Winter (1966) 60 copies
And other stories (1968) 53 copies, 1 review
Assembly (1960) 52 copies
The Farmers Hotel (1951) 48 copies, 4 reviews
Pipe Night (1945) 41 copies
The Ewings (1972) 41 copies
Pal Joey: The Novel and The Libretto and Lyrics (2016) — Author — 36 copies, 2 reviews
Hellbox (1961) 34 copies, 1 review
A Family Party (1956) 29 copies, 1 review
49 stories (1962) 24 copies
John O'Hara's Hollywood (2007) 18 copies
The Doctor's Son (1935) 18 copies, 1 review
My turn (1966) 15 copies
Sweet and Sour (1954) 15 copies
John Ohara Omnibus (1986) 12 copies
Two by O'Hara (1979) 10 copies
Five plays (1962) — Author — 10 copies
Files on parade (1939) 6 copies
La chica de California y otros relatos (2017) 5 copies, 1 review
Selected Stories (2011) 5 copies
A Rage to Live [1965 film] — Screenwriter — 4 copies
Graven Image 3 copies, 1 review
Afternoon Waltz 2 copies
Natica Jackson (2017) 2 copies
Andrea 2 copies
Flight 2 copies
The Kids 1 copy
Nil Nisi 1 copy
Requiescat 1 copy
The Busybody 1 copy
This Time 1 copy
Grief 1 copy
The Favor 1 copy
The War 1 copy
Eileen 1 copy
The Tackle 1 copy
The Gambler 1 copy
The General 1 copy
The Jama 1 copy
Leonard 1 copy
The Brothers 1 copy
No Justice 1 copy
The Weakling 1 copy
Not Always 1 copy
The Skipper 1 copy
Pilgrimage 1 copy
Yostie 1 copy

Associated Works

50 Great Short Stories (1952) — Contributor — 1,272 copies, 8 reviews
Great American Short Stories (1957) — Contributor — 498 copies, 2 reviews
The World of the Short Story: A 20th Century Collection (1986) — Contributor — 464 copies, 4 reviews
Points of View: Revised Edition (1966) — Contributor — 417 copies, 7 reviews
Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker (2000) — Contributor — 356 copies
A Treasury of Short Stories (1947) — Contributor — 296 copies
The 40s: The Story of a Decade (2014) — Contributor — 279 copies, 5 reviews
The Treasury of American Short Stories (1981) — Contributor — 268 copies, 1 review
Short Stories from The New Yorker, 1925 to 1940 (1940) — Contributor — 202 copies, 1 review
Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker (1997) — Contributor — 187 copies
In Another Part of the Forest: An Anthology of Gay Short Fiction (1994) — Contributor — 178 copies, 2 reviews
Sixteen Short Novels (1985) — Contributor — 178 copies, 1 review
An Anthology of Famous American Stories (1953) — Contributor — 142 copies, 1 review
Read With Me (1965) — Contributor — 131 copies, 2 reviews
The Indispensable F. Scott Fitzgerald (1945) — Introduction, some editions — 61 copies
Master's Choice, Volume 1 (1999) — Contributor — 60 copies
55 Short Stories from The New Yorker, 1940 to 1950 (1949) — Contributor — 59 copies
Reading for Pleasure (1957) — Contributor — 52 copies
Butterfield 8 [1960 film] (1960) — Original novel — 47 copies, 2 reviews
The Bedside Tales: A Gay Collection (1945) — Contributor — 46 copies
Pal Joey [1957 film] (1989) — Original book — 42 copies
Reader's Digest Condensed Books 1957 v01 (1957) 42 copies, 1 review
From the Terrace [1960 film] (1960) — Original novel — 21 copies
Horse Stories (2012) — Contributor — 16 copies
The Penguin Book of Sea Stories (1977) — Contributor — 15 copies
New Stories for Men (1941) — Contributor — 13 copies
Modern American Short Stories (1941) — Contributor — 7 copies
The Bathroom Reader (1946) — Contributor — 3 copies
The Best Short Short Stories from Collier's (1948) — Contributor — 3 copies
Ten Great Stories: A New Anthology (1945) — Contributor — 2 copies
Modern American short stories (1963) — Contributor — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



I read this a few months ago and the characters of Grace Caldwell and Sidney Tate remain vivid. Grace can come across as a sex maniac but she is not one-dimensional. Her husband Sidney seems to have everything in the world but he is actually a lonely man. The moment that Grace realised this when she saw him polishing his shoes, is to me a milestone scene, and one that is unforgettable.
siok | 6 other reviews | Jun 1, 2024 |
I really despised the main character of this novel. I was glad he had an appointment in Samarra.
sturlington | 43 other reviews | May 28, 2024 |
My goal was to read an older book alternating with a hot, new title. This served well as I had never read O'Hara which would now be considered historical fiction, it takes place in the Thirties, Forties, Fifties in Pennsylvania. The story also tied in with the movie we watched last night, The Swimmer, from the John Cheever tale about a man whose exalted social position collapses with the loss of his job. [b:Sermons and soda water|50613537|Sermons and soda water|John O'Hara|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1579591273l/50613537._SX50_.jpg|75611823] follows the lives of Ivy Leaguers from a small town, Gibbsville, who fall on hard times in their financial and marital fortunes. O'Hara uses lots of dialogue introduce his characters. Class and status are important yet the key couple, Bobbie and Pete, disregard it: Bobbie has an affair with the bootlegger and frequents the Dan Patch Tavern while Pete works at the aluminum plant and sleeps with a typist. Flagons of drink are consumed, in fact, the bootlegger accuses Bobbie of being a lush ending their tryst. People get sore, not angry; bawl not cry; get the bounce instead of being fired or laid off. A slice of Americana, well written by an significant author whom my mom forbid teenage me to read ([b:Ten North Frederick|796907|Ten North Frederick|John O'Hara|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1440620321l/796907._SY75_.jpg|1092644][b:BUtterfield 8|49715|BUtterfield 8|John O'Hara|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1320445243l/49715._SY75_.jpg|1768442][b:Appointment in Samarra/Butterfield 8/Hope of Heaven|4589146|Appointment in Samarra/Butterfield 8/Hope of Heaven|John O'Hara|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1314241794l/4589146._SX50_.jpg|4638581] all classics.… (more)
featherbooks | 3 other reviews | May 7, 2024 |
Most people will be familiar with the parable that the title alludes to, in which a man, encountering death in a Baghdad bazaar, immediately flees to the distant city of Samarra in hopes of alluding his fate ... only to find death waiting for him there, explaining: "I, too, was surprised to encounter you at the market, as our appointment was always in Samarra." The idea being that there's no escaping fate once it has you in its sites.

This is certainly the plight of Julian English, the protagonist of this tale of upper middle class WASPS in 1930s Gibbsville, Illinois. Julian's the owner of a prosperous Cadillac dealership, husband to a wife who genuinely loves him (in her whiny 1930s way), with a social life that revolves around the local country club and its WASPy members. But in the course of an eventful two days, fate relentlessly hunts our golden boy down, the result of a combination of misbehaviour, mischance, misapprehension, and not an insignificant measure of hubristic overreach, as Julian (along with many other characters in this novel) consistently reaches for more than he needs or wants.

O'Hara's claim to fame is that he was, at one time, the most prolific contributor of tales to the New Yorker magazine, and boy does this read like something Woody Allen would pen. It's well written and crafted, but the incessant whininess of the characters can get a little fatiguing. With the exception of a subplot involving a low-level hood named Al Grecco, everyone here is dealing with WASP-y first-world problems: attending the "right" college, driving the "right" car, marrying the "right" spouse, living in the "right" neighborhood, attending the "right" social events and parties, drinking, gossiping, and judging each other relentlessly. The crimes that destroy Julius aren't crimes in the legal sense, but crimes against the norms of his class: throwing a drink into the face of a social peer, drinking too much, humiliating his wife.

Almost 100yrs later, some aspects of this tale - the country club dances & raccoon coats, the male-centric marriages, the insane drinking - may feel like a time capsule. Alas, however, the central themes of this tale - social gamesmanship and snobbery, hypocrisy, hubris & self-emoliation - are timeless.
… (more)
Dorritt | 43 other reviews | Apr 3, 2024 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by
½ 3.7

Charts & Graphs