22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Roddy Doyle

Portrait Roddy Doyle
© Hartwig Klappert

Roddy [Roderick] Doyle was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1958. His mother and his father, a typesetter, awakened Roddy’s love for literature at a young age. Doyle was an English and Geography teacher until he gave that profession up in 1993 in favor of writing; his part-time work as a writer had long since been successful. His literary debut came in 1987 with the novel »The Commitments«, the first part of the »Barrytown« trilogy about the life of the Rabbitte family in a fictitious suburb of Dublin named Barrytown. The trilogy concluded with the novel »The Van« (1991). In this early work, Doyle took the example of the Irish working class to explore the changes in society in late 20th-century Ireland. Using dialogue as a narrative style that, from the first sentence, lets the reader take part in the family’s life; in it, incidental happenings are not left out, but, in the most literal sense of the term, voiced (often coarsely); this provides a detailed glimpse of everyday Irish culture. Doyle remarked that his characters’ life was hard and their language crass, but beauty and empathy could be found in this emptiness. In 1993, the author won the Booker Prize for his novel »Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha« (1993). As the title already hints, Doyle established himself as the most important Irish representative of contemporary comic writing; his characters don’t lose their sense of humor, even in times of crisis, which it helps them endure; in their laughter, the echo of the abyss beneath their feet can always be heard. Later works take new linguistic and thematic paths. For example, the novel »A Star Called Henry« (1999) is set in Dublin in the 1920s, and Doyle’s narrative now describes the protagonists’ surroundings and peeks into their thoughts. In 2013, he paid another visit to the Rabbitte family in his novel »The Guts«. Along with short stories und plays Doyle also writes children’s books, most recently the story »A Greyhound of a Girl« (2011), which leaps back and forth among its characters from four generations of women, and the children’s book »Brilliant« (2014), in which the hunt begins for a mysterious »black dog« that is besetting Dublin. Several of his works have been filmed.

In 2009, Doyle opened the Fighting Words center in Dublin. It offers creative writing courses for children.