Books Like A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving published his seventh novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany, in 1989 and it went on to become one of his all-time bestselling novels according to his publisher. The story takes place in two interwoven time frames and is narrated by John Wheelwright, a friend of the titular character, Owen Meany. The book explores themes of war and friendship as well as faith and religion. While it features thought-provoking and controversial themes, it is also a story that is filled with humor. For many readers it is an unforgettable story, so check out these books like A Prayer for Owen Meany if you are also a fan.
by Robertson Davis
Irving included plenty of homages to other novels in A Prayer for Owen Meany and one of the more obvious ones is Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Fifth Business is the first book in the Deptford trilogy by Davies and shares a lot of themes with A Prayer for Owen Meany. One of the most obvious examples is how Owen Meany accidentally kills John's mother with a baseball from a foul strike. In Fifth Business it is a snowball thrown by the protagonist which hits the pregnant wife of the town's minister in the hit and sends her into premature labor. While she doesn't die, the incident affects her mind and causes the protagonist to feel a lot of guilt. Another similarity is how the protagonist's mother in Owen Meany is frequently compared to an angel while the woman hit by the snowball in Owen Meany is compared to a saint. Irving himself has stated that he loves Fifth Business, so it's definitely worth a read.
by Gunter Grass
Irving was also a fan of The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass, which was released in 1959. Owen Mean shares the same initials as Oskar Matzerath, the protagonist of The Tin Drum and both books share religious overtones. The Tin Drum is narrated by Oskar Matzerath during his confinement in a mental hospital in the early fifties. According to Oskar, he was born in 1924 and decided to never grow up as he already had an adult's capacity for thought and perception from the start. It's not just his diminutive size that he shares with Owen Meany, but also an unusual voice. While Owen has a high-pitched voice, Oskar has a shriek so piercing that he can use it to shatter glass. Tin Drum was translated into English in 1961 and received a new 50th-anniversary translation again in 2009.
by Chad Harbach
The Art of Fielding is a 2011 novel by Chad Harbach and tells the story of Henry Skrimshander. Henry is not very tall, but his unusual gift for baseball, especially in the shortstop position, gets him a lot of attention from Major League Baseball scouts. What is interesting about this novel is that just like A Prayer for Owen Meany one of the big catalyzing events in the story is a baseball accident. Whereas Owen Meany accidentally kills his best friend's mother with a baseball, Chad accidentally hits his roommate Owen in the head with one in The Art of Fielding. It's an unusual coincidence seeing as Harbach had not read A Prayer for Owen Meany before writing his novel, which took him ten years to complete.
by Brady Udall
The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint is the debut novel by Brady Udall and it has received a lot of praise from fans of A Prayer for Owen Meany. He had previously written a collection of stories, but it was the tale of the half Apache and mostly orphaned Edgar Presley Mint that really drew readers in. Edger has suffered bad luck all of his life, starting with the mailman's jeep accidentally running over his head at age seven. Just like Owen Meany, Edgar grows up encountering lots of larger-than-life experiences. The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint also deals with a lot of thought-provoking topics while Brady Udall shares Irving's knack for creating characters readers can empathize with.
by John Boyne
A Prayer For Owen Meany often walks a fine line between being laugh out loud funny and heartrending, which is something that The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne also pulls off with aplomb. The novel was published in 2017 and was quickly shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year. It is the story of Cyril Avery, who is not really an Avery as the parents who adopted him as a baby constantly reminds him. The fact that his family treats him more as a curious pet instead of a son also doesn't help him to feel at home with him. Although it is all that Cyril has ever known he is still desperate to find his place in the world. Like Owen, Cyril has to deal with painful events in his past but also forges decades-long friendships.