1945 Born in Wexford, Ireland.
1962 First story, ‘The Party’, written.
1966 ‘The Party’ published in The Kilkenny Magazine.
1970 First book, Long Lankin (a collection of short stories and a novella), published. Reissued in revised form in 1984.
1971 First novel, Nightspawn, published. Reissued in 1993.
1973 Birchwood published. Wins the Allied Irish Banks’ Prize and the Irish Arts Council Macaulay Fellowship.
1976 Doctor Copernicus published. Wins the Whitbread Prize, the James Black Tait Memorial Prize, and the American Ireland Fund Literary Award
1981 Kepler published. Wins the Guardian Prize for Fiction.
1982 The Newton Letter published.
1984 A film version of The Newton Letter, entitled Reflections, broadcast by Channel 4 and RTÉ.
1986 Mefisto published.
1988 Appointed Literary Editor of The Irish Times.
1989 The Book of Evidence published. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Wins the Guinness Peat Aviation Book Award and the Marten Toonder Award.

Begins a long-standing tenure as reviewer-essayist with The New York Review of Books.

1991 La Spiegazione dei Fatti (the Italian translation of The Book of Evidence) awarded the Premio Ennio Flaiano.
1993 Ghosts published. Shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize.
1994 The Broken Jug, an adaptation of Kleist’s Der zerbrochne Krug, premiered at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin on 1 June. Seachange, a film adaptation of the author’s uncollected story ‘Rondo’, broadcast by RTÉ.
1995 Athena published.
1996 The Ark, a story for children, published.
1997 The Untouchable published. Wins the Lannan Literary Award. Shortlisted for the Whitbread Fiction Prize.
1999 Adapts Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September for the screen.
2000 Eclipse published. God’s Gift, an adaptation of Kleist’s Amphitryon, premiered at the O’Reilly Theatre, Dublin on 12 October. Doctor Copernicus, Kepler and The Newton Letter published together in a single volume under the title The Revolutions Trilogy.
2001 The Book of Evidence, Ghosts and Athena published together in a single volume under the title Frames.
2002 Shroud published. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Stardust: Three Monologues of the Dead broadcast by BBC Radio Three’s The Verb. Dublin 1742, a play for children, performed at The Ark in Dublin on 5 June. The stage production of The Book of Evidence premiered at the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny on 10 August.
2003 Awarded the Premio Nonino. Prague Pictures: Portraits of a City published as part of Bloomsbury’s ‘The Writer and the City’ series.
2004 Kepler, a radio play, broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on 11 August.
2005 The Sea published. Wins the Man Booker Prize. Love in the Wars, an adaptation of Kleist’s Penthesilia, published. A World Too Wide, a radio play about Shakespeare’s ‘sixth age of man’, broadcast by RTÉ.
2006 Awarded the Premio Grinzane-Francesco Biamonti Prize. The Sea shortlisted for British Book Awards Author of the Year. Todtnauberg, a radio play about the 1967 meeting between Paul Celan and Martin Heidegger, broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on 20 January 2006.
2007 The Sea nominated for the Man Booker International Prize. Awarded the Madeleine Zepter Prix Littéraire Européen. Made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
2008 Conversation in the Mountains, the script of Todtnauberg, published.
2009 The Infinities published.
2010 The Infinities wins the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. The Sea shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Decade (Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards).
2011 Awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. Co-scripts with Glenn Close and Gabriela Prekop, the film Albert Nobbs.
2012 Ancient Light published. Possessed of a Past: A John Banville Reader published. Awarded the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature.
2013 Awarded the The Austrian State Prize for European Literature.