Smile | Penguin Random House Canada

Smile

Publisher: Knopf Canada
"It's Doyle's bravest novel yet; it's also, by far, his best." npr.org

“The closest thing he’s written to a psychological thriller." The New York Times Book Review

From the author of the Booker Prize–winning Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a
 bold, haunting novel about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past.


Just moved into a new apartment, alone for the first time in years, Victor Forde goes every evening to Donnelly’s for a pint, a slow one. One evening his drink is interrupted. A man in shorts and a pink shirt comes over and sits down. He seems to know Victor’s name and to remember him from secondary school. His name is Fitzpatrick.

Victor dislikes him on sight, dislikes, too, the memories that Fitzpatrick stirs up of five years being taught by the Christian Brothers. He prompts other memories—of Rachel, Victor's beautiful wife who became a celebrity, and of Victor’s own small claim to fame, as the man who would say the unsayable on the radio. But it’s the memories of school, and of one particular Brother, that Victor cannot control and which eventually threaten to destroy his sanity.

Smile has all the features for which Roddy Doyle has become famous: the razor-sharp dialogue, the humor, the superb evocation of adolescence, but this is a novel unlike any he has written before. When you finish the last page you will have been challenged to reevaluate everything you think you remember so clearly.

READ AN EXCERPT

—Victor?
    I looked up when I heard when I heard my name but I couldn’t see a thing. I was sitting near the open door and the light coming through was a solid sheet between me and whoever had spoken. My eyes were watering a bit – they did that. I often felt that they were melting slowly in...
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PRAISE FOR

"It's his bravest novel yet; it's also, by far, his best." —npr.org

“The closest thing he’s written to a psychological thriller." —The New York Times Book Review

“Roddy Doyle always takes us deep below the laughter, into the reality of who we are, the reality that we can never hide from who we’ve been. This time achingly.” —Linden MacIntyre, author of The Bishop’s Man, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize

Smile retains the usual pleasures of Doyle’s sharp dialogue, well-drawn characters and evocative but undemonstrative prose. It’s also a smart book about the performance of masculinity, the impact of religion on social mores and, most potently, the complicated ways we deal with the after-effects of trauma. . . . It’s guaranteed to make you think. You may be driven to find other readers to discuss it, over pints.” —Maclean’s 

“Like all good literature, [Smile] will inspire debate but also admiration for the courage of a hugely successful writer who refuses to be predictable and uses the novel to challenge both the reader’s sense of ease and the nature of the form itself.” —John Boyne, The Guardian

“[The] early scenes demonstrate Doyle’s gift for capturing the witty and often cruel banter that animates Irish pub talk. . . . The terrible costs of [the] assault, and the link between Victor and Eddie, are revealed in a violent, dreamlike finale that will send many readers back to the novel’s first page to reassess everything they’ve read. It’s a risky move on Doyle’s part, but it works brilliantly.” —Toronto Star

“Roddy Doyle’s latest novel, which begins in a Dublin pub, seems to be straightforward enough. . . . What it turns out to be will surprise even his most ardent fans.” —Winnipeg Free Press

Smile’s shock value isn’t in graphic or harrowing detail, but in its dizzying twist, which upends expectations.” —The Times

“Doyle turns the novel on its head. . . . The ending is a daring tour-de-force.” —The Scotsman 

“[F]resh and bracing from page one. . . . It isn’t until the final pages that the reader understands just what Doyle has done, and it might take a rereading to appreciate just how well he has done it. The understatement of the narrative makes the climax all the more devastating.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 
 
“Readers anticipating Doyle’s trademark wit and warmth will instead encounter a psychological mystery with an enigmatic ending that will have them flipping to the beginning looking for clues. Doyle’s ability to convey so much meaning through rapid-fire dialog in the Irish vernacular is unsurpassed. His commentary about the Catholic Church, sexuality, and repression is searing.” —Library Journal
 
“Doyle flavors a compelling character study with a soupçon of suspense, misdirecting readers for a powerful purpose that is only fully revealed at the shocking, emotionally charged ending.” —Booklist