Roddy Doyle has earned a devoted following amongst those who appreciate his sly humor, acute ear for dialogue, and deeply human portraits of contemporary Ireland. The Deportees is Doyle's first-ever collection of short stories, and each tale describes the cultural collision-often funny and always poignant-between a native and someone new to the fast-changing country. From a nine-year- old African boy's first day at school to a man who's devised a test for "Irishness"to the return of The Commitments's Jimmy Rabbitte and the debut of his new multicultural band, Doyle offers his signature take on the immigrant experience in a volume reminiscent of his beloved early novels.
Dubliner Roddy Doyle's first short story collection describes the "new Ireland" that emerged in the 1990s, a land of booming economic opportunity and burgeoning immigration. "I went to bed in one country and woke up in a different one," writes Doyle. Each one involves someone new to Ireland interacting with a native, with much cross-cultural confusion and dark humor ensuing -- along with Doyle's furious and consistent compassion for the underdog. But true understanding often results. The first story centers on Larry, a "hip" Irish father whose daughter Stephanie brings home a Nigerian suitor. Larry's level of discomfort, his terror at saying the wrong thing, creates hilarity and exquisite tension, but Doyle never falls back upon stereotypical encounters. The title story is a sequel to Doyle's The Commitments. Lovable Johnny Rabbitte is back, assembling a band of misfits: a Romanian, a Russian, and an African singer named King Robert. The best here is, "New Boy," in which a nine-year-old African immigrant fights off bullies and struggles to adapt to a new school. There isn't a bad story in the bunch, and each introduces vivid characters struggling with self-identity in a newly multicultural Ireland. Roddy Doyle has long been a treasure, and this collection wonderfully reflects his richly comic humanity. --Chuck Leddy