Thirty years ago, international bestselling author Roddy Doyle self-published his debut novel The Commitments—a book that “challenged previous ideas about what could be safely categorized as literary fiction” (The Guardian) and launched the career of one of the English language’s most gifted and accomplished writers. Doyle has the uncanny ability to create truly unforgettable characters, such as Jimmy Rabbitte, the soulful bandleader in The Commitments; Paula Spencer, the brave and tenacious housewife in The Woman Who Walked into Doors; and, of course, Patrick Clarke, the curious and inimitable ten-year-old in Paddy Clarke HA HA HA for which Doyle won the prestigious Man Booker Prize.
In Smile, Doyle’s utterly gripping eleventh novel—one that explores trauma, regret, and the uncertainty of memory—he has conjured perhaps his most memorable and haunting character: Victor Forde, a middle-aged writer with a turbulent past. Simultaneously compact and capacious, Smile is a potent investigation of a serious subject matter—abuse and its legacy—and how we construct narratives about ourselves and contend with difficult personal histories. While rivaling Paddy Clarke HA HA HA in its extraordinary magnetism, remarkable sensitivity, and superb evocation of adolescence, Smile delivers an explosive ending that is unlike anything Doyle has written before.