Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1993 Booker Prize Winner

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle


Publisher: Secker & Warburg

Length: 288 pages

About: A 10 year-old-boy's experiences in Dublin

Style: 1st  person

Where: Ireland (Dublin)

When: 1968


Publisher’s synopsis:

It is 1968. Patrick Clarke is ten. He loves Geronimo, the Three Stooges, and the smell of his hot water bottle. He can’t stand his little brother Sinbad. His best friend is Kevin, and their names are all over Barrytown, written with sticks in wet cement. They play football, lepers, and jumping to the bottom of the sea. But why didn’t anyone help him when Charles Leavy had been trying to kill him? Paddy sees everything, but he understands less and less.



Fuck was the best word. The most dangerous word. You couldn’t whisper it.




Fuck was always too loud, too late to stop it, it burst in the air above you and fell slowly right over your head. There was total silence, nothing but Fuck floating down. For a few seconds you were dead, waiting for Henno to look up and see Fuck landing on top of you. They were thrilling seconds—when he didn’t look up. It was the word you couldn’t say anywhere. It wouldn’t come out unless you pushed it. It made you feel caught and grabbed the minute you said it. When it escaped it was like an electric laugh, a soundless gasp followed by the kind of laughing that only forbidden things could make, an inside tickle that became a brilliant pain, bashing at your mouth to be let out. It was agony. We didn’t waste it.    




Now the novel's winning title finds its context, not as the happy hoot of Paddy's being, but in other voices chanting on the playground: 'Paddy Clarke - / Paddy Clarke - / Has no da / Ha ha ha.' The resilient hero has already adopted a new swagger, the worldliness of the man of the house: 'I didn't listen to them. They were only kids.' But Roddy Doyle's book has already dead-legged the assumption that grown-ups are more interesting. To borrow the formula: 'It was sad and brilliant; I liked it.'

The Guardian, Mick Imlah, 13th June 1993 for full review click here


Not so good:

This dreariness surprised me, given that in 1993 when it won the Booker prize, some critics sneered that this book was an easy, "populist" choice (presumably because it sold more copies than any of the others and was written by the author of The Commitments). But it isn't – as was implied – light entertainment. It's a slow and painful lament for the death of childhood – albeit with a few funny bits. It's one of the hardest Booker winners I've encountered. On reflection, I found it sad and sweet and moving. But getting to that stage wasn't always pleasurable.

The Guardian Book Blog, Sam Jordison, 14th August 2009 for full review click here


About the author

Roddy Doyle was born in May 1958 in Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming a full-time writer in 1993. Roddy Doyle lives in Dublin.


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<1992> -  <1994>














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Age guide: 15



Novels by same author:






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2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

Click here


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