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  • Published: 7 June 2002
  • ISBN: 9780552771092
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $29.99

The Fourth Hand

A masterpiece from one of the great contemporary American writers.

'Imagine a young man on his way to a less-than-thirty-second event - the loss of his left hand, long before he reached middle age.'

While reporting a story from India, a New York television journalist has his left hand eaten by a lion; millions of TV viewers witness the accident. In Boston, a renowned hand surgeon awaits the opportunity to perform the nation's first hand transplant. A married woman in Wisconsin wants to give the one-handed reporter her husband's left hand, that is, after her husband dies. But the husband is alive, relatively young, and healthy...

  • Published: 7 June 2002
  • ISBN: 9780552771092
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $29.99

About the author

John Irving

John Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942, and he once admitted that he was a 'grim' child. Although he excelled in English at school and knew by the time he graduated that he wanted to write novels, it was not until he met a young Southern novelist named John Yount, at the University of New Hampshire, that he received encouragement. 'It was so simple,' he remembers. 'Yount was the first person to point out that anything I did except writing was going to be vaguely unsatisfying.'

The World According to Garp, which won the National Book Award in 1980, was John Irving's fourth novel and his first international bestseller; it also became a George Roy Hill film. Tony Richardson wrote and directed the adaptation for the screen of The Hotel New Hampshire (1984). Irving's novels are now translated into thirty-five foreign languages, and he has had nine international bestsellers. Worldwide, the Irving novel most often called "an American classic" is A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989), the portrayal of an enduring friendship at that time when the Vietnam War had its most divisive effect on the United States.

In 1992, Mr. Irving was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma. (He competed as a wrestler for twenty years, until he was thirty-four, and coached the sport until he was forty-seven). In 2000, Irving won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Cider House Rules-a Lasse Hallström film with seven Academy Award nominations. Tod Williams wrote and directed The Door in the Floor, the 2004 film adapted from Mr. Irving's ninth novel, A Widow for One Year. In One Person is John Irving's thirteenth novel.

John Irving has three children and lives in Vermont and Toronto.

Also by John Irving

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Praise for The Fourth Hand

Sharp and very, very funny, this is another of Irving's fiercely original meditations of life's inherent strangeness


Irving has a literary style similar to a snowball effect: with each novel he creates symbols and develops themes to accompany those he has already accumulated. Grief, loss, abortion, amputation, sex, children, America's political history and the power of foresight are all explored here


A coruscating comedy of sexual manners. In the margins of a hard-hitting satire on the modern media, Irving has produced some of the funniest bedroom scenes of recent years

Sunday Telegraph

Richly entertaining reading: part satire, part farce... there's no better - or funnier - reintroduction to the least known truly great American author


A rich and deeply moving tale... Vintage Irving

Washington Post

A beguiling tale of love and redemption

Time Out

Peerless... Writing without a wasted second


Articulate, clever, quirky, more than a touch profound and very funny


If you are looking for something light and provocative for the beach this is a great little number

Irish Independent

an engaging, warm-hearted novel'

Scotland on Sunday