Roddy Doyle was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1958. For fourteen years he was a teacher of English and Geography at Greendale Community School, Kilbarrack, in north Dublin, an area of the city he has used as the setting for many of his novels. The first three of theseThe Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van—make up The Barrytown Trilogy, a series that follows the working-class Rabbitte family over a period of several years. The Van was a finalist for the 1991 Booker Prize, awarded to the outstanding novel published in Great Britain each year. Doyle cowrote the screenplay for the film version of The Commitments and also adapted the other two novels for the screen. His fourth novel, Paddy Clarke, ha-ha-ha, won the 1993 Booker Prize and was an international best-seller, as were The Woman Who Walked into Doors and A Star Called Henry. Doyle’s plays for the stage Brownbread and War both enjoyed successful runs in Dublin. He also wrote the four-part television series Family for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
Doyle’s first novel, The Commitments, follows a working-class band’s struggle to bring soul music to Dublin. The origins of the band, its rise to brief popularity in northside Dublin dancehalls and clubs, and its eventual breakup are chronicled by the band’s self-styled agent and promoter, Jimmy Rabbitte, Jr. Critics and reviewers praised Doyle’s unsentimental treatment of his characters as well as the realistic dialogue and the gritty humor of the book. In The Snapper, the focus is Jimmy’s sister Sharon, whose pregnancy disrupts not only the family but the neighborhood as a whole, because she refuses to name the child’s father. Much of the comedy here stems from...
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