Deportees, The

Roddy Doyle
For the past few years Roddy Doyle has been writing stories for Metro Eireann, a newspaper started by, and aimed at, immigrants to Ireland. Each of the stories took a new slant on the immigrant experience, something of increasing relevance and importance in today's Ireland. The stories range from 'Guess Who's Coming to the Dinner', where a father who prides himself on his open-mindedness when his daughters talk about sex, is forced to confront his feelings when one of them brings home a black fella, to a terrifying ghost story, 'The Pram', in which a Polish nanny grows impatient with her charge's older sisters and decides - in a phrase she has learnt - to 'scare them shitless'.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2021-10-29

Eight short stories make up Roddy Doyle’s The Deportees. Tales of a newly multicultural Ireland which sometimes struggles to keep up with the pace of the recent changes. After decades (and probably centuries) of monoculture, the economic boom brought an eclectic mix of migrants to partake in the prosperity. These eight stories deal with the interactions of communities as they grew to understand and, sometimes, appreciate one another. Roddy Doyle’s magic touch of honesty and humour give depth and legitimacy to these anecdotes; modern fables for a modern country.

Guess who’s coming for the dinner introduces us to Larry Linnane and his family, including his four beloved daughters. Independent and feisty, Larry knocks great craic out of his girls. Frequently fascinated by their escapades, he is, however, at a loss when Stephanie announces that she has a black boyfriend.
"That was the bell. Damn it, he has one leg in his underpants, the other one hanging over the floor. Larry had wanted to be down there to meet the black lad – Ben – at the door. Hello Ben – not howyeh, he’d decided – ‘Great weather. Must remind you of home’. But here he was, up in the bedroom, fighting his knickers. This wasn’t what he’d planned at all. He didn’t want Mona and the girls thinking that he was avoiding the lad, that he was being rude or just ignorant. He’d decided against the suit. The young fella would probably be in a tracksuit. So Larry was dressing himself a bit up from that, just enough to impose his authority – the older man, the citizen, the firm but fair father. So he’d chosen the good trousers and a clean shirt, no tie…Down the stairs. Into the front room. There they all were, squeezed in. He saw all the girls first, Stephanie and Vanessa and – where was the black fella? Maybe it hadn’t been him at the door at all – but Tracy stepped aside and there he was. In a fuckin’ suit. The best, most elegant suit Larry had ever been close to. A small lad – very, very black – and completely at home in the suit. The wall looked filthy behind him. –Howyeh, Ben, said Larry. Damn it, he’d said howyeh. He took a couple of steps to shake hands with him. The first black hand Larry had ever shaken. He felt sophisticated – not a bother on him – shaking a black hand. Not even looking at it. –Great weather, wha’. It must remind you of home. And then he heard it. The rain. Whacking against the window behind him. He looked, and saw a sheet of the stuff charging down the glass. Where had it come from? It had been lovely when he’d gone up to shave. He was still hanging onto the lad’s hand. There was sweat in the clinch now, and it was Larry’s. He was failing here. But they were laughing, the girls, Mona, and even young Laurence. They thought Larry had been joking. They were grateful. He was breaking the ice, making the lad feel at home. For a few seconds Larry forgot why they were all there, he forgot completely. He just wanted them all to love him. Especially the black lad in the suit."
 

Reviewed: 2016-11-27

Eight short stories make up Roddy Doyle’s The Deportees. Tales of a newly multicultural Ireland which sometimes struggles to keep up with the pace of the recent changes. After decades (and probably centuries) of monoculture, the economic boom brought an eclectic mix of migrants to partake in the prosperity. These eight stories deal with the interactions of communities as they grew to understand and, sometimes, appreciate one another. Roddy Doyle’s magic touch of honesty and humour give depth and legitimacy to these anecdotes; modern fables for a modern country.

Guess who’s coming for the dinner introduces us to Larry Linnane and his family, including his four beloved daughters. Independent and feisty, Larry knocks great craic out of his girls. Frequently fascinated by their escapades, he is, however, at a loss when Stephanie announces that she has a black boyfriend.


"That was the bell. Damn it, he has one leg in his underpants, the other one hanging over the floor. Larry had wanted to be down there to meet the black lad – Ben – at the door. Hello Ben – not howyeh, he’d decided – ‘Great weather. Must remind you of home’. But here he was, up in the bedroom, fighting his knickers. This wasn’t what he’d planned at all. He didn’t want Mona and the girls thinking that he was avoiding the lad, that he was being rude or just ignorant. He’d decided against the suit. The young fella would probably be in a tracksuit. So Larry was dressing himself a bit up from that, just enough to impose his authority – the older man, the citizen, the firm but fair father. So he’d chosen the good trousers and a clean shirt, no tie…Down the stairs. Into the front room. There they all were, squeezed in. He saw all the girls first, Stephanie and Vanessa and – where was the black fella? Maybe it hadn’t been him at the door at all – but Tracy stepped aside and there he was. In a fuckin’ suit. The best, most elegant suit Larry had ever been close to. A small lad – very, very black – and completely at home in the suit. The wall looked filthy behind him. –Howyeh, Ben, said Larry. Damn it, he’d said howyeh. He took a couple of steps to shake hands with him. The first black hand Larry had ever shaken. He felt sophisticated – not a bother on him – shaking a black hand. Not even looking at it. –Great weather, wha’. It must remind you of home. And then he heard it. The rain. Whacking against the window behind him. He looked, and saw a sheet of the stuff charging down the glass. Where had it come from? It had been lovely when he’d gone up to shave. He was still hanging onto the lad’s hand. There was sweat in the clinch now, and it was Larry’s. He was failing here. But they were laughing, the girls, Mona, and even young Laurence. They thought Larry had been joking. They were grateful. He was breaking the ice, making the lad feel at home. For a few seconds Larry forgot why they were all there, he forgot completely. He just wanted them all to love him. Especially the black lad in the suit."

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