Excerpt: Smile
"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.


    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 my head.
    —Am I right?
    It was a man. My own age, judging by the shape, the black block he was making in front of me now, and the slight rattle of middle age in his voice.
    I put the cover over the screen of my iPad. I’d been looking at my wife’s Facebook page.
    I could see him now. There were two men on the path outside, smoking, and they’d stood together in the way of the sun.
    I didn’t know him.
    —Yes, I said.
    —I thought so, he said.—Jesus. For fuck sake.
    I didn’t know what to do.
    —It must be – fuckin’ – forty years, he said.—Thirty-seven or -eight, anyway. You haven’t changed enough, Victor. It’s not fair, so it isn’t. Mind if I join you? I don’t want to interrupt anything.
    He sat on a stool in front of me.
    —Just say and I’ll fuck off.
    Our knees almost touched. He was wearing shorts, the ones with the pockets on the sides for shotgun shells and dead rabbits.
    —Victor Foreman, he said.
    —That’s right, he said.—Forde.
    I had no idea who he was. Thirty-eight years, he’d said; we’d have known each other in secondary school. But I couldn’t see a younger version of this man. I didn’t like him. I knew that, immediately.
Publisher: Knopf Canada