Novelist, humorist and screenwriter
NYS Writers Institute, November 12, 2004
4:15 p.m. Seminar | Recital Hall, Performing Arts Center
8:00 p.m. Reading | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave.,
Special THURSDAY Screening of THE VAN, November 11, 2004
7:30 pm. | Page Hall, 135 Western Ave, downtown Campus
Kevin's Film Notes
Known for upbeat, charming, and funny depictions of Irish underclass life, Roddy Doyle, novelist, humorist and screenwriter, is one of the major figures of contemporary Irish literature. Doyle's books have regularly topped bestseller lists throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. He received the Booker Prize for his 1993 novel, "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha."
His most recent book is the newly published novel "Oh, Play That Thing" (November 2004), the second volume in Doyle's newest trilogy, "The Last Roundup." The first volume, "A Star Called Henry" (1999), was named one of the best books of the year in "The Boston Globe," "Publishers Weekly," and "Entertainment Weekly." The trilogy recounts the violence-filled youth of Henry Smart, an IRA terrorist, at the beginning of the last century.
"Ireland's most powerful contemporary writer." - Peter Jinks, "Glasgow Herald" (on "A Star Called Henry")
"perhaps no one has done so much to create a new set of images for the Ireland of the late 20th century…." - Mary Gordon, "New York Times"
"emerged in recent years as one of the eminent straight men of Ireland's literary renaissance. But Doyle is funny the way the finest humorists dare to be, using comedy to make bearable the grimmest of human realities." - Gail Caldwell, "Boston Globe"
"Oh, Play That Thing," the second volume of the trilogy, tells of Henry's adventures among mobsters and jazz musicians in Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. The "New York Times Book Review" called the book "Astonishing . . . narrated with a splendor, wit, and excitement that lift Doyle's writing to a new level." "Booklist" noted, "Doyle displays his trademark sensitivity and wit in a tale full of adventure, passion, and prose as punchy as a Satchmo riff."
Doyle is best-known for his "Barrytown trilogy" of novels: "The Commitments" (1989), which follows the ups and downs of an Irish band that specializes in Motown hits; "The Snapper" (1990), the story of a young pregnant girl who refuses to reveal the identity of her child's father; and "The Van" (1991), about the adventures of two unemployed Irishmen who decide to go into business as the proprietors of a fish-and-chips van. All three novels in the "Barrytown trilogy" were made into acclaimed, prizewinning motion pictures featuring scripts written or cowritten by the author, and all three starred Colm Meaney, Irish actor of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" fame, as the patriarch of an unruly North Dublin family.
Writing in the "New York Times," Kinky Friedman called Doyle's novel, "The Commitments," "authentic, joyous and funny as hell." In a review of "The Van," the "Los Angeles Times Book Review" said that Doyle, "can write pages of lifelike, impeccably profane dialogue without a false note or a dull fill, economically evoking every lark and emotional plunge in the life of an entire Irish family." "The Van" was short-listed for the Booker Prize.
In 1993, Doyle received the Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award, for the novel, "Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha," which is written from the perspective of a troubled ten-year-old boy. In the "Washington Post," Carolyn See called it "a beautifully written book…. It may be one of the great modern Irish novels."
Doyle is also the author of "Rory & Ita" (2002), a memoir of his parents told largely in their own words. The "San Francisco Chronicle" called the book "a detailed, rich memoir," and said that, "Doyle has done an amazing job of shaping his parents' history into a compelling narrative."