Life in the Celtic Tiger

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In “Paula Spencer,” Roddy Doyle’s last novel, his characters reflect on the changes that have come to Ireland, their country.

To them it seems that they went to sleep one night in the old familiar Ireland and woke up the next day in the strange new Celtic Tiger.

For her birthday, Paula (the protagonist of the title) treats herself to a visit to a new Italian cafe. When she and her neighbor, Rita, pass a store named “Pride and Joy,” Rita says that she knew the country was changing when the first kids’ clothing shops opened.

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“They were the proof, said Rita. - People had more money than they needed. It’s great. I noticed them before all the new cars, said Rita. - And the talk about house prices. Even all the cranes.” And while 10 years ago Paula cleaned offices with other Irishwomen, today she works with “men from Romania and Nigeria.”

These new images of Ireland are at the heart of “The Deportees,” Doyle’s latest collection of stories.

Ireland is now the land of immigrants and not too surprisingly there’s a certain amount of friction between the new and old residents.

“Today, one in every ten people living in Ireland wasn’t born here,” writes Doyle. It’s a phenomenon worth studying and that’s exactly what Doyle’s stories do. To see Heller McAlpin’s review of “The Deportees,” click here.

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