Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Appointment in Samarra” as Want to Read:
Appointment in Samarra
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Appointment in Samarra

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  11,359 Ratings  ·  600 Reviews
O’Hara did for fictional Gibbsville, Pennsylvania what Faulkner did for Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi: surveyed its social life and drew its psychic outlines, but he did it in utterly worldly terms, without Faulkner’s taste for mythic inference or the basso profundo of his prose. Julian English is a man who squanders what fate gave him. He lives on the right side of th ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published July 8th 2003 by Vintage (first published 1933)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Appointment in Samarra, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Sheri Or better yet, that trying to escape one's fate will only speed up its arrival.
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
LadyCalico
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
O'Hara's distinctive literary voice is both unique and disarming. For the first hundred pages I was unsure that O'Hara was even a competent writer, nevermind author of one of the century's great novels. His narrative technique and dialogue both are steeped in the jargon of his heyday, Prohibition Era, small town America. But O'Hara deals with big themes and the idiom of his day becomes secondary. He seems to want to take on big questions: why is the moth so driven to the flame? Why do we so will ...more
Jim
Mar 12, 2017 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I had never read anything by O'Hara before, and he probably would have stayed off my radar forever if I hadn't read Running with the Bulls: My Years with the Hemingways, in which Valerie Hemingway states that O'Hara was an author recommended to her by Papa himself(but not this title). I figured that if a writer is good enough for Papa Hemingway, who am I to pass him by?

So I figured I would start at the beginning and I was certainly not disappointed. I found a book with a noirish (if that's a wor
...more
Jake
Oct 02, 2010 Jake rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
On the back of this novel, Hemingway offered the following blurb: "if you want to read a book by a man who knows exactly what he is writing about and has written it marvelously well, read Appointment in Samarra." Unfortunately, the subject John O'Hara knows so much about, and about which he does occasionally pen very beautiful pages, is the social life of the country club set in a little backwater city in central Pennsylvania. The novel takes place in 1930, but apart from a few passing reference ...more
Tony
Jun 22, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing
APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA. (1934). John O’Hara. *****.
I like to go back and re-read books that I have read years and years ago that I only remember as being really good at the time. I first read this first novel by O’Hara in the late 1950s, when I was in high school. I was in school in Philadelphia, so was familiar with the setting of the story – the anthracite coal region. The town in the novel was called Gibbsville, a thinly veiled reference to O’Hara’s home town of Pottsville, PA. His characters
...more
Teresa
Jul 28, 2015 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa, e3
Segundo a sinopse, Encontro em Samarra é um clássico da literatura norte-americana, com momentos de humor negro (pelos quais me "pelo", mas que aqui me escaparam).

Comprei-o porque consta da lista Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels.
Li-o porque um utilizador do Goodreads, cujo gosto literário é muito semelhante ao meu, o classificou com 5 estrelas.
Mas não gostei.
- Porque o desenvolvimento do enredo não me despertou qualquer interesse - as consequências para a vida de um homem que, por impulso, at
...more
Rolls
Mar 07, 2007 Rolls rated it liked it
This is on The Modern Libraries Top 100 Novels? I can see no reason why. It's a good book - but top 100? Come on! This should be like # 552 on a list of the 1000 best novels.
aPriL does feral sometimes
Dec 29, 2010 aPriL does feral sometimes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary
The stifling atmosphere of small town life is so vividly displayed here that alone made the book difficult for me. I'm not old enough to know what middle class mores were in fact like in the 1930's but many so-called canon Great Books depict the same types of people, occupations and distresses.

The Wasp set of values in vogue in the past, under which the characters in the book must live, struck me as the American version of Victorian values in the earlier era. Julian English's name is a clue to
...more
Alex
Jan 06, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: the useless
Shelves: 2017
It seems like Appointment in Samarra (SOM-a-rah) is going to be another one of those light comedies about silly rich people, the kind we've seen quite enough of already thank you - and then it gets close and slips the knife in.

Julian English is a useless person: an idle rich loser who drinks too much. One night he throws a drink into some other idle loser's face. Predictable social difficulties ensue.

But mistake is compounded on mistake. He is a useless person. He is of no use. It's one of your
...more
Mike Moore
Nov 04, 2014 Mike Moore rated it it was amazing
A remarkably succinct novel about social standing, gender relations, economic disadvantage, sex and death.

John O'Hara is often thought a middling writer, but for at least the 200-odd pages of this work he is an absolute master. Covering an astounding panorama of themes and insights into the bourgeoisie population of a small town at the beginning of the depression, his frankness on married life, resentment, criminality, and a dozen other topics that are alternately ignored or aggrandized by other
...more
Claire
May 09, 2015 Claire rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like The Great Gatsby but much much better.
Patrick McCoy
Sep 22, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-noir
I have heard a lot of good things about John O’Hara’s first and most popular novel, Appointment in Samarra. So I finally decided to read it. It was quite a revelation-a Fitzgerald-esque depiction of the 30s jazz age lifestyle complete with snappy dialogue, big parties, heavy drinking and other sorts of dissipation. There are bootleggers and gangsters among the upwardly mobile who see this way of life as an entitlement. It is essentially the chronicle of a marriage in decline between the self-des ...more
Kira Simion
May 18, 2017 Kira Simion marked it as to-read
The narrator, I'm told, is Death. That reminds me of The Book Thief in that way.
Armin Hennig
Erster Versuch, inzwischen gibt es eine zweite Rezi von mir, die ich persönlich für gelungener halte.
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Der Autor wird gern als the real F. Scott Fitzgerald gepriesen, dank meiner Schwäche für unterschätzte Genies hatte das Buch bei mir einen Riesenbonus, der sich am Ende eher als Mühlstein erweisen sollte, dabei fing alles so gut an.
Mit einem programmatischen Zitat von Somerset Maugham, das den Titel als Verabredung mit dem Tod erklärte. In der alten Legende
...more
Michael
Weihnachten 1930: Eigentlich könnte Julian English mit seinem Leben sehr zufrieden sein. Er ist 30 Jahre alt, verheiratet mit der hübschen und intelligenten Caroline, und Chef einer Cadillac-Filiale. Es ist die Zeit der Prohibition, aber es wird ständig gesoffen; allenfalls die Qualität des geliebten Drinks variiert, die Menge aber ist immer ausreichend; und Julian hält nichts davon ab, sich bei allen gesellschaftlichen Anlässen zu betrinken. Carolines Bitten, nicht zu viel zu trinken, sind rege ...more
Michael
Mar 16, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
O'Hara is neglected today -- maybe he was so ferociously accurate about his own time that he wrote himself out of the public mind. Who wants to keep getting their fingers burned, picking up each new book? Besides, as he aged, he got cranky and "prolix," as someone once put it, probably Updike. Appointment in Samarra is a tiny bit childish at the very beginning, when it feels like high school; but very soon the characters march righteously off the page and into your mundane, what'sforlunch consci ...more
Solistas
3.5*/5

Απ'τα πλέον φημισμένα βιβλία της αμερικανικής λογοτεχνίας που όταν ετοιμαζόμουν να διαβάσω στα αγγλικά, πέτυχα σε παλιοβιβλιοπωλείο την ελληνική έκδοση του 1983.

Είναι χωρίς αμφιβολία ένα ιδιαίτερο κείμενο που διαβάζεται σε μια καθισια, το οποίο μέχρι να μπει στην τελική του ευθεία με είχε αφήσει σχετικά αδιάφορο. Το βιβλίο περιγράφει τις 3 τελευταίες κ καταστροφικές μέρες του Τζούλιαν καθώς από ευηπόληπτο μέλος της φανταστικής επαρχίας του Γκιμπσβιλ μετατρέπεται σε ντροπή της κλειστης κοιν
...more
Margit
Feb 15, 2008 Margit rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Alison and Nicky
Appointment in Samarra is an American Classic by John O'Hara. He describes the life of a young man in small town America before the Depression who has it all. When he makes a big mistake on Christmas his downward spiral is aided by people and events and shows that it is rather difficult to evade one's fate. This is also implied by the Arabian parable in the beginning of the book.
The book is very well written and , although it is depressing, I enjoyed it very much.
Jenn Ravey
May 04, 2013 Jenn Ravey rated it really liked it
In one of the greatest scenes I’ve read in recent memory, Julian English fantasizes about throwing his drink in the face of Harry Reilly. What has Harry done? Nothing, really. But at this particular dance, Harry Reilly tells story after story, and it’s not just that – Harry has a specific method to his storytelling, mannerisms of which Julian tires. But he dissuades himself, reminding himself that Harry has loaned him quite a bit of money to pull Julian out of a pinch at the Cadillac dealership. ...more
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Pretty much my entire adult life I have had people at various times tell me what an amazing novel this is to read. In fact, it may have been my father who first told me about this book, and of course I promptly ignored his recommendation. Well, here I am, just a few months shy of turning 60 years old, and I have recently discovered the short stories and novels of John O'Hara.

Appointment in Samarra is really not much more than a longish novella, but every word, every sentence and every paragraph
...more
Matt
Mar 29, 2010 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O'Hara's timeless novel begins with W Somerset Maugham forboding epigraph Death Speaks.

Death speaks:
There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the market-place I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture; now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from t
...more
Matt
pretty darn good minor classic about fitzgerald's famous "lost generation"...I really enjoyed this when I read it a million years ago. I just completely plugged into it and read it till the early hours of the morning. Great platter of minor characters and a well-paced plot leading inevitably to the satiric denouement where the flapping and philosophizing ends in tragedy because the participants lack the necessary self-reflection to understand how existentially unmoored they are in the consumeris ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Part of the challenge this summer is to read new-to-me authors. John O'Hara is definitely one I'll be reading more. I have complained to myself that starting a book is often slow, then I get accustomed to the author's style by about page 50 and it takes off. My mind needed no adjustment for O'Hara's writing style, and I was right in stride by page 2.

Gibbsville is a place unfamiliar to me. I never moved in these high social circles and, frankly, am pretty much unaware of them now. My experience d
...more
Gabriele
Dec 05, 2015 Gabriele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: americana, owned
Mi piace pensare che questo "Appuntamento a Samarra" sia il giusto punto d'unione fra due grandi libri della letteratura americana del secolo appena trascorso, ovvero "Il grande Gatsby" di Fitzgerald e "Revolutionary Road" di Yates, due libri con cui condivide molto, dall'ambientazione fino alle vicende raccontate. Potrebbe sembrare un'affermazione azzardata ai lettori italiani, visto che questo libro di John O'Hara è praticamente sconosciuto e introvabile nelle nostre librerie (pubblicato negli ...more
Paul
Mar 19, 2015 Paul rated it it was ok
F Scott Fitzgerald once said "the rich are different from you and me." Well, if "Appointment in Samarra" is an accurate depiction, they're apparently a lot duller and dumber. I have no idea why this proto-"Peyton Place" enjoys such a sterling literary reputation. Maybe when it was published in 1934, people wanted a little schadenfreude at the expense of the country-club set (and in the depths of a Depression triggered by the recklessness of the rich, it was well-deserved). The book also has some ...more
Jay
Dec 11, 2007 Jay rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction

My my. There's something about the pleasantville genre that never quite sat square with me- the difference between the public persona and the ineffable "self" that makes a mess of so much decorum. Well, no shit. Writing after 1968 affords us that judgement.

But here's John O'Hara, writing over the winter, publishing in '34. His apparently bibulous inclinations makes him one of the best writers about character and drink, at least on a technical level. But this portrait of a small town built on a d
...more
Ensiform
Apr 21, 2012 Ensiform rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Told from a variety of viewpoints and through flashbacks, this often grim novel of manners centers on one Julian English, the owner of a Cadillac dealership, and his fall from society’s good graces. After drunkenly flinging a drink in the face of Harry Reilly at a party, Julian is rather unsettled to find that this act has deeper consequences than he realized. Reilly is well-liked, free with his money, was once a suitor of Julian’s wife before she married him, and has lent Julian himself a large ...more
Kristie
Dec 01, 2012 Kristie rated it really liked it
I just finished this book - not sure how I missed reading it before now. I found it to be compelling and chilling. I constantly had to remind myself of when it was written as it comes across as extremely modern in spite of period details and references that remind you of its true era. That it is a first novel is impressive to say the least. O'Hara deals with themes that are complex and mature. The title and the way it is cued up with a famous quote from Maugham is brilliant. I read some reviews ...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 31, 2015 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
Appointment in Samarra is about the final destructive week of a rich young man in Prohibition-era America. Julian English is a bigshot in his town, part of the country club, a Cadillac dealer (I think Cadillac, but it's been a week since I finished the book, so I could be wrong.) He has a beautiful wife he loves, even if he fucks around on her. He's respected in the business community.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can
...more
Beatriz Chavarri
Oct 02, 2016 Beatriz Chavarri rated it it was amazing
Me gustaría redactar una reseña que le hiciera justicia a esta gema desconocida para mí semanas atrás. Appointment in Samarra es, a mi juicio, todo lo que no logró ser The great Gatsby e incluso más. No solo por lograr transmitir el espíritu decadente disfrazado de bonanza del Estados Unidos de los años 30, sino por hacerlo por medio de una prosa cautivadora, con una técnica narrativa mucho más moderna que la de Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Por suerte, tuve la oportunidad de leer ambas novelas en i ...more
Jon
Jun 09, 2009 Jon rated it really liked it
How one act of indulgence/wish fulfillment demonstrates the tenuousness of some peoples' lives. Julian Engish, a man who has a few problems, but is generally successful (especially considering the economic times in which he lived!) gives in to a suppressed desire, acting on it, and it leads him down an increasingly tormented path. He may not be a sympathetic character, but he is, at times, understandable and also by a certain stage pathetic enough to feel sorry for. We've all done something we r ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
don't understand the ending 2 26 Dec 04, 2014 09:59PM  
  • Studs Lonigan
  • Loving
  • A Dance to the Music of Time: 1st Movement (A Dance to the Music of Time, #1-3)
  • Zuleika Dobson
  • Under the Net
  • The Death of the Heart
  • The Wapshot Chronicle
  • The Old Wives' Tale
  • The Day of the Locust
  • The Assistant
  • The Adventures of Augie March
  • Dog Soldiers
  • The Berlin Stories: The Last of Mr Norris/Goodbye to Berlin
  • Call It Sleep
  • USA: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money
  • The Way of All Flesh
  • The Man Who Loved Children
  • The Ginger Man
27991
John Henry O'Hara was an American writer born in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue. O'Hara was a keen observer of social status and class differences, and wrote frequently about the social ...more
More about John O'Hara...

Share This Book



“When Caroline Walker fell in love with Julian English she was a little tired of him. That was in the summer of 1926, one of the most unimportant years in the history of the United States, and the year in which Caroline Walker was sure her life had reached a pinnacle of uselessness.” 5 likes
“There were numerous physical combats between husbands and wives, and not always the husbands that matched the wives. Kitty Hofman, for instance, had been given a black eye by Carter Davis when she kicked him in the groin for dunking her head in a punch bowl for calling him a son of a bitch for telling her she looked like something the cat dragged in. And so on.” 1 likes
More quotes…