cover image The Deportees and Other Stories

The Deportees and Other Stories

Roddy Doyle, . . Viking, $24.95 (242pp) ISBN 978-0-670-01845-1

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.)