The Dead Republic: Book summary and reviews of The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle

The Dead Republic

A Novel

By Roddy Doyle

The Dead Republic
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2010,
    336 pages.

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Book Summary

Roddy Doyle's irrepressible Irish rebel Henry Smart is back - and he is not mellowing with age. Saved from death in California's Monument Valley by none other than Henry Fonda, he ends up in Hollywood collaborating with legendary director John Ford on a script based on his life. Returning to Ireland in 1951 to film The Quiet Man - which to Henry's consternation has been completely sentimentalized - he severs his relationship with Ford.

His career in film over, Henry settles into a quiet life in a village north of Dublin, where he finds work as a caretaker for a boys' school and takes up with a woman named Missus O'Kelly, whom he suspects - but is not quite sure - may be his long-lost wife, the legendary Miss O'Shea. After being injured in a political bombing in Dublin in 1974, Henry is profiled in the newspaper and suddenly the secret of his rebel past is out. Henry is a national hero. Or are his troubles just beginning?

Raucous, colorful, epic, and full of intrigue and incident, The Dead Republic is also a moving love story - the magnificent final act in the life of one of Roddy Doyle's most unforgettable characters.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Doyle exhibits a peerless ear for cynicism as he grapples with the violence and farce of Irish history." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Once again, Doyle masterfully renders Henry Smart's voice. A triumphant tale from a lyrical and thoughtful storyteller." - Library Journal

"The Dead Republic has Doyle’s trademark staccato style, but it lacks the breathless exuberance of parts 1 and 2. Nonetheless, readers will want to tune in to see what fate awaits the irrepressible Irishman." - Booklist

"Doyle's intent in all of this seems a slightly laboured variation on the idea that the tragedies of history are subsequently played out as farce. In Smart's case, and by extension Ireland's, the dramas in which the liberation struggle was born become either melodramas or massacres, soul becomes either sentiment or savagery. Over the course of the three books, reality becomes slowly diluted, but not always in the ways that Doyle intends." - The Guardian (UK)

"Doyle’s real triumph is in telling the lifetime odyssey of a man and nation in thrall to a myth of hardship and hardness, the indifference that the cunning must feign to survive and the damage that that denial ultimately causes. It’s grand; but not heroic." - The Telegraph (UK)

"What we have here is something one had thought impossible: a Roddy Doyle novel that outstays its welcome. So praise be that the book ends on an unambiguous full point. Time, one humbly suggests, for Doyle to abandon history, too, and get back to what he's good at: the humdrum hilarity of the here and now." - The Independent (UK)

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Author Information

Roddy Doyle Author Biography

Photo: Mark Nixon

Born in 1958 in Dublin, Roddy Doyle is a prolific Irish writer who has found over two decades-worth of material in the humorous, tender, and fraught life of the family. Americans may be most familiar with Doyle's wise-cracking dialog and its lilting Dublin intonations from the popular film adaptations of his Barrytown Trilogy: The Commitments (1987), The Snapper (1990), and The Van (1991). The three stories center around one middle-class Dublin family and their enterprises - a soul band, a teen pregnancy, a fish-and-chips van.

In 1993, Doyle won the Man Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, a story told from the point of view of a ten-year-old boy living in the Barrytown section of north Dublin. For its language and perspective, the novel often draws comparisons with James Joyce's A...

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