cover image Smile


Roddy Doyle. Viking, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2444-5

The latest novel from the Booker Prize–winning author of Paddy Clark Ha Ha Ha explores the intricate psychology and history of a failed Irish writer who has recently separated from his famous wife. Having rented a cheap apartment in the unnamed Irish hometown he’d left behind, Victor Forde passes his bleary nights at Donnelly’s, a nondescript local pub where he soon runs into a forgotten, ornery schoolmate, Fitzpatrick. From there, the book’s structure takes some twists and turns as Fitzpatrick forces Victor through difficult recollections of his Christian Brothers school years, his poignant courtship of his celebrity chef wife, and the controversial pro-choice radio interviews that made him infamous. A revelation brings the relationship between Victor and Fitzpatrick to a violent conclusion, leading to an ambiguous twist ending sure to spark debate in readers. Doyle skillfully depicts the triumphs and tragedies of the everyday, how the aging process humbles and ennobles, and how a single hasty decision made in one’s youth can define and destroy a mind and thus a life. (Oct.)