Goran was born May 16, 1928. His parents were Jacob and Tillie Goran. Goran was raised in a housing project near the University of Pittsburgh. Although the university was close, Goran grew up among the working class culture of the projects. As many of his works show, he was heavily influenced by the culture of Irish-Americans and the goings on of the local pubs, especially the Irish Club.
Goran attended Fifth Avenue High School and Schenley High School and the University of Pittsburgh for both his B.A. and M.A. which he earned in 1951 and 1960, respectively. Goran also served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Military Police. Goran married Edythe McDowell. The couple had three children.
Goran joined the faculty at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida starting in 1960. He became a professor of English in 1974.
Goran's work reflects a great deal about his past and upbringing. In Tales from the Irish Club: A Collection of Short Stories, Goran portrays the neighborhood of his childhood by presenting it through a series of short stories. Much of his work is influenced by Irish-American culture.
The sequel to Tales from the Irish Club was She Loved Me Once, another collection of short stories. Critics welcomed She Loved Me Once as a simple and solid portrayal of Goran's boyhood community.
In his novel, Bing Crosby's Last Song, Goran explores Pittsburgh through the eyes of his main character Daly Racklin. The novel takes place just before the assassination of John F. Kennedy and chronicles Daly's confrontation with heart problems and the prospect of losing his home. Critics, including Library Journal reviewer Susan Gene Clifford, said that the work was more of a "nostalgic snapshot" as oppose to a true novel. Nevertheless, the book was met with decent acclaim by most critics who praised it for its down-to-earth style.
For other works by Lester Goran, see the Selected Bibliography section below.