Both the attention to the depiction of Irish characters and to contemporary Irish colloquialisms and north-side Dublin dialect are suggested in the title of Doyle’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel Paddy Clarke, Ha-Ha-Ha. The novel has been justifiably and favorably compared to numerous bildungsromans, or coming-of-age novels, including Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1914-1915, serial; 1916, book), and J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Paddy Clarke, Ha-Ha-Ha indeed shows some of the struggles of the title character as he tries to have fun as a young boy, even as the circumstances of his family and his neighborhood cause him to grapple with some adult-sized issues and problems. Paddy is proud of his status as an oldest son, and he is characteristically condescending to his younger brother, Sinbad, and his two baby sisters.
As lower-middle-class suburban sprawl moves northward from Dublin, new treeless housing subdivisions under construction provide a dangerous but thrilling landscape for Paddy and his hooligan friends, Aidan, Liam, and Kevin. They terrorize the younger kids in the neighborhood, perform acrobatic feats of boyhood heroism on slag piles of discarded cement, and even create mock-Viking funeral rites for dead rats among the construction rubble. Doyle’s narrative voice, channeled through the ten-year-old...
(The entire section is 540 words.)