A Star Called Henry

Publisher: Vintage Canada
An historical novel like none before it, A Star Called Henry marks a new chapter in Booker Prize-winner Roddy Doyle's writing. It is a vastly more ambitious book than any he has previously written. A subversive look behind the legends of Irish republicanism, at its centre a passionate love story, this new novel is a triumphant work of fiction.

Born in the slums of Dublin in 1902, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing, begging, charming, often cold, always hungry, but a prince of the streets. At fourteen, already six foot two, Henry's in the General Post Office on Easter Monday 1916, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army, fighting for freedom. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian, and, soon, a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike, a lover.

From the Hardcover edition.


My mother looked up at the stars. There were plenty of them up there. She lifted her hand. It swayed as she chose one. Her finger pointed.

-- There's my little Henry up there. Look it.

I looked, her other little Henry sitting beside her on the step. I looked up and hated him. She held me but she looked up at...
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"A Best Book of '99"
The Globe and Mail

"The best novelist of his generation."
Literary Review

"This buoyantly imagined, lyrical but realistically detailed narrative has a blistering immediacy."
Publishers Weekly

“You’ll find here all the vividness, humour, and emotional thrust of Doyle’s much-acclaimed earlier work along with a new historical density, a heft that ranks Doyle as truly one of the outstanding
novelists in the English language.”
Elle Magazine

"Marvellous...bloody brilliant."
The Toronto Star

A startling achievement...a book where war can rage and love can burrow under the skin--. A fragment of a forgotten folk song and a worm's eye view of Irish history.... A grand thing of beauty."
The Globe and Mail

"History evoked on an intimate and yet earth-shaking scale, with a huge dash of the blarney, some mythical embellishments and a driving narrative that never falters."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A triumph of craft and intelligence and toughness of mind."
Hamilton Spectator

"A masterpiece."
The Irish Times

“Doyle has [written an] Irish epic, and he wields the style like a sword, with the power and grace of a master.”
The Village Voice

“Maybe the Great American Novel remains to be written, but on the evidence of its first installment, this is the epic Irish one, created at a high pitch of eloquence.”
Publishers Weekly

“Astonishing…. Narrated with a splendor, wit, and excitement that lift Doyle’s writing to a new level.”
The New York Times Book Review