The Deportees by Roddy Doyle

The Deportees and other stories The Deportees and other stories by Roddy Doyle

-How’s things?

Like the immigrants and the sons and daughters of such people in Ireland in the book, they are apprised of this slang, now.

Also, like the illegal immigrant in the story I Understand I might even say ‘fuck that’, as he does when his bus goes past without stopping. He gets the approval of the natives, who approve, telling him, ‘Making the effort’. Oh, and he loves saying, ‘it is grand’. This is one of the phrases he learns from Kevin, a waiter for a bar in which he does cleaning.

This cleaner of offices are one of the scores of black African, poor white Europeans, new arrivals, and even one half-black, Gaswegian-born but raised in Ireland. We read their moving, and often amusing, stories of coping with a strange language and environment, of love, horror, friendships, exploitation. Most of them are light and fun to read because you smile at these people’s adventures. Not all though; one story, a dark one, has a Polish child minder go off the bend after being abused by her employer, whose husband likes to wait for her to come back with their baby in an old pram, from the cold, so that he can enjoy the sight of her damp clothes clinging to her chest.

Doyle does not employ slang like some Scots writers do, with the exception of a few, like ‘howyeh’,’slainte’, ‘shite’. A character from Doyle’s The Commitments makes an appearance in The Deportees. He says ‘shite’ a lot, mostly to singers and bands, and records he doesn’t like.

For all the stories, Doyle keeps the language simple, and sentences are mostly short, the paragraphs, as well. In place of quote marks for speeches, he just utilizes dashes. And this is not always because the characters who are not white Irish cannot make up complex sentences. Notwithstanding the character in I Understand, who is learning the language of his adopted country, everyone else speaks like this, even the half-black Declan who goes to New York to purportedly research black writers’ influence of Irish literature, when he is there to find any connections to his black American grandfather who left his gran with child in Glasgow in the second world war.

All these stories are collected from a monthly Irish multicultural paper, Metro Eireann, started by two Nigerian journalists in 2000. They are now very relevant to a new Ireland, in which Doyle says, “Today, one in every ten people living in Ireland wasn’t born here.”

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