Eight funny and poignant stories of immigrant experience in contemporary Ireland
The eight tales in Roddy Doyle's first-ever collection of stories have one thing in common: someone born in Ireland meets someone who has come to live there. In "Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner," a father who prides himself on his open-mindedness when his daughters talk about sex is forced to confront his feelings when one of them brings home a black man. "New Boy" describes the first day of school for a nine-year-old boy from Africa; while in "The Pram," a terrifying ghost story, a Polish nanny grows impatient with her charge's older sisters and decides--in a new phrase she has learned--to "scare them shitless." In "57% Irish," a man decides to devise a test of Irishness by measuring reactions to three things: Riverdance, the song "Danny Boy," and Robbie Keane's goal against Germany in the 2002 World Cup. And in the wonderful title story, Jimmy Rabbitte, the man who formed The Commitments, decides that it's time to find a new band--a multicultural outfit that specializes not in soul music but in the folk songs of Woody Guthrie.
This is classic Roddy Doyle, full of his unmistakable wit and his acute ear for dialogue. With empathy and insight, The Deportees and Other Stories takes a new slant on the immigrant experience, something of increasing relevance in today's Ireland.
Doyle's dynamic first collection of short stories offers light and heartfelt perspectives on the effects of immigration on Irish culture. Originally serialized for a Dublin newspaper, all eight stories draw from the conceit of someone born in Ireland [who] meets someone who has come to live there. The opener, Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner, covers familiar ground--a self-proclaimed modern father is taken aback when his daughter invites a black fella to dinner--but Doyle's wry sense of humor saves the narrative from triteness. Fans of Doyle's previous work will revel in the title story, a follow-up to The Commitments that finds Jimmy Rabbitte masterminding a multicultural revival of Woody Guthrie music. The later stories find Doyle experimenting with different styles and voices: New Boy charts an unlikely friendship between a nine-year-old African immigrant and two small, angry Irish boys, while Black Hoodie finds a timid, indifferent teenager discovering his passion for civil rights and a Nigerian girl. There are some abrupt endings that veer toward the convenient, though this may be an unavoidable consequence of their serial origins. Doyle's immense talent as a writer is neatly showcased throughout, and his sharp wit adds a richness to every tale. (Jan.)
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January 09, 2008
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