four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
33-Mar-Apr-2008
By: 
Roddy Doyle
user_rating: 
0

A-The DeporteesIn the nine stories in his first short story collection, Roddy Doyle explores the new, multiethnic Ireland, where one in every ten citizens was born in another country. In "Guess Who’s Coming for the Dinner," a father spends an awkward evening when his daughter brings home a Nigerian friend. "The Pram" features a Polish nanny who takes her revenge on a nasty boss. The title story revisits Jimmy Rabbitte, former manager of The Commitments but now a middle-aged family man who aspires to form a new, multicultural band for which "White Irish need not apply." In each of these stories, the homogeneous Ireland of years past confronts the reality of the immigrant experience.
Viking. 256 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0670018457

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Just when it seemed that the only author left who gives a pig’s whistle about writing superb short stories is Alice Munro, along comes Doyle with this superlative book of short tales to pick up the slack. … The stories all reflect the changed face of Ireland and do so with an abundance of grace, humor and unselfconsciously first-rate writing." Peter Moore

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Restrained to 800 words [for serial publication], he produced stories that are pruned—yet not exactly tidy—versions of his usual, wildly ebullient gardens. … Affection and respect for his new compatriots spill through these stories, infusing them with hope for the brave new world we all inhabit." Tricia Springstubb

Los Angeles Times 4 of 5 Stars
"While there are some rough moments here—owing mainly to the unusual way in which these stories were composed—the book confirms Doyle’s standing as a rare genius of socially conscious literary comedy and a master of exposition through dialogue. … Doyle’s mastery of ordinary Dubliners’ speech informs all these stories and lends them an urgent credibility." Tim Rutten

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"The mélange of cultures on the soil of what used to be one of the whitest states in the European Union makes for fantastic storytelling. … Doyle’s use of odd punctuation and copious dialogue captures the characters’ mindsets, propelling his stories into unexpected climaxes and rich emotional territory." Kelly Lemieux

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"The experiment in serial publication (written in 800-word installments) results in a variety of entertaining narratives. … The Deportees and Other Stories is an easy excursion into the new Irish culture, conveyed with Doyle’s usual brilliant sense of originality, sly charm and wry wit." Robert Allen Papinchak

Miami Herald 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The stories, which ran as serials in the weekly multicultural newspaper Metro Eireann, are somewhat formulaic in structure: In each, someone born in Ireland meets someone not born there. The stories take on different shadings—’The Pram,’ for instance, is an unsettling horror tale—but they’re uniformly infused with Doyle’s infectious sense of humor and lovingly profane dialogue." Connie Ogle

NY Times Book Review 3 of 5 Stars
"Although the relationship is not what it seems [in ‘Guess Who’s Coming for the Dinner’], the warm, fuzzy feeling that Doyle’s comic writing effortlessly conjures does not seem earned; a point, we know, is being made, and so the tale is never quite credible. … Sad to acknowledge, perhaps, that it’s the darker stories that work best." Erica Wagner

Critical Summary

Roddy Doyle, celebrated chronicler of the Irish working class and winner of the 1993 Man Booker Prize (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha), turns his attention to the immigrant experience in his first collection of short stories. The stories collected here first appeared in 800-word installments in the Dublin weekly newspaper Metro Eireann, which was founded in 2000 by two Nigerian journalists. Critics agreed that The Deportees is vintage Doyle, demonstrating his sharp wit, lively sense of humor, richly drawn characters, and ear for dialogue. They cited some problems related to the space limitations of serial publications, which result in stories that "are generally instantly engaging but not always carefully constructed" (Christian Science Monitor), but these problems were easy to ignore given Doyle’s extraordinary storytelling abilities. As in any collection, critics disagreed about which stories succeed best. By turns poignant and chilling, heartbreaking and laugh-out-loud funny, Doyle’s stories are as affecting as his novels.