The Deportees and Other Stories

Dubliner Roddy Doyle's first short story collection describes the "new Ireland" that emerged in the 1990s, a land of booming economic opportunity and burgeoning immigration. "I went to bed in one country and woke up in a different one," writes Doyle. Each one involves someone new to Ireland interacting with a native, with much cross-cultural confusion and dark humor ensuing -- along with Doyle's furious and consistent compassion for the underdog. But true understanding often results. The first story centers on Larry, a "hip" Irish father whose daughter Stephanie brings home a Nigerian suitor. Larry's level of discomfort, his terror at saying the wrong thing, creates hilarity and exquisite tension, but Doyle never falls back upon stereotypical encounters. The title story is a sequel to Doyle's The Commitments. Lovable Johnny Rabbitte is back, assembling a band of misfits: a Romanian, a Russian, and an African singer named King Robert. The best here is, "New Boy," in which a nine-year-old African immigrant fights off bullies and struggles to adapt to a new school. There isn't a bad story in the bunch, and each introduces vivid characters struggling with self-identity in a newly multicultural Ireland. Roddy Doyle has long been a treasure, and this collection wonderfully reflects his richly comic humanity. -

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).