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Ireland with egg on its face

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In other words, Doyle is not a writer stuck inside his own head; he is out there looking around, paying attention to the changing world and the adjustments people make to accommodate it. In each of these eight stories, "Someone born in Ireland meets someone who has come to live here," Doyle summarizes. The stories were originally serialized in monthly 800-word installments (slightly longer than this review) in Metro Eireann, a multicultural paper started by two Nigerian journalists living in Dublin.

Serialization poses special constraints and demands on writers. Deadlines combined with space limitations result in tales that are generally instantly engaging but not always carefully constructed. Instead of the meticulously planned, subtle little masterpieces turned out by his compatriot, William Trevor, Doyle's stories start with a bang but tend to fizzle. Nevertheless, they're remarkable for their lively, accessible take on serious subjects.

In "Guess Who's Coming for the Dinner," Larry Linnane is forced to re-evaluate his attitudes when his daughter brings home a Nigerian accountant. "He tortured himself for things to say, nice things that would prove he wasn't a bigot," Doyle writes wryly.

In the title story, Jimmy Rabbitte, whom readers may recognize as the manager of the eponymous "best Irish band never recorded" from "The Commitments," decides that life has become a bit flat. He rounds up a veritable United Nations of refugee musicians to create a new, multicultural band influenced by Woody Guthrie, which he dubs The Deportees.

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