Born in the Dublin slums of 1901, his father a one-legged whorehouse bouncer and settler of scores, Henry Smart has to grow up fast. By the time he can walk he's out robbing and begging, often cold and always hungry, but a prince of the streets. By Easter Monday, 1916, he's fourteen years old and already six-foot-two, a soldier in the Irish Citizen Army. A year later he's ready to die for Ireland again, a rebel, a Fenian and a killer. With his father's wooden leg as his weapon, Henry becomes a Republican legend - one of Michael Collins' boys, a cop killer, an assassin on a stolen bike.
This is really a masterpiece
This is Ireland's most famous living writer tackling one of the most crucial periods in its history... A Star Called Henry has all the hallmarks of the start of a major literary portrayal of a national experience
A vibrant work of fiction - In Doyle's ambidextrous hands, the making of modern Ireland gets a vigorous and illuminating run-down
Doyle just gets better and better... This is history evoked on an intimate, and yet earth-shaking scale, with a driving narrative that never falters. Maybe the Great American Novel remains to be written, but on the evidence of its first instalment - this is the epic Irish one, created at a high pitch of eloquence
The energy and full-blooded dialogue of Doyle's creations are as much in evidence here as in the best of his previous work- A Star Called Henry is billed as Volume One of The Last Roundup. It is an exhilarating beginning
Dublin-born Roddy Doyle joins Alex Clark to discuss his new book, Smile, and the real life experiences that influenced his writing