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Publisher's Summary

“[Doyle] imparts a sense of poignancy and glimpses of happiness, of grief and loss and small moments of connection . . . you’re left feeling close to dazzled.” —Daphne Merkin, New York Times Book Review

A brilliantly warm and witty portrait of our pandemic lives, told in ten heartrending short stories, from the Booker Prize–winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Love and marriage. Children and family. Death and grief. Life touches everyone the same. But living under lockdown, it changes us alone.

In these ten beautifully moving short stories written mostly over the last year, Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle paints a collective portrait of our strange times. A man abroad wanders the stag-and-hen-strewn streets of Newcastle, as news of the virus at home asks him to question his next move. An exhausted nurse struggles to let go, having lost a much-loved patient in isolation. A middle-aged son, barred from his mother’s funeral, wakes to an oncoming hangover of regret.

Told with Doyle’s signature warmth, wit, and extraordinary eye for the richness that underpins the quiet of our lives, Life Without Children cuts to the heart of how we are all navigating loss, loneliness, and the shifting of history underneath our feet.

©2022 Roddy Doyle (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“There is an immediacy in the stories in Life Without Children, an emotional charge that comes with writing in real time, and an optimism too.  In the stripping away of everyday anxieties, the virus reveals what matters most, those qualities that are always at the heart of Doyle’s fiction:  love and connection, however clumsily expressed . . . more than anything, these stories are about the vital importance of communicating with one another before it’s too late.”The Guardian 

Life Without Children provides evidence that the short story, with its contained scope and drive, is the best way to convey how intensely individuals have struggled with COVID-19 and its global ramifications . . . [Doyle] is the right writer for this job because he can take a worldwide event and distill it into a delicious fruit drink or a pint of properly pulled stout—if not a world in a glass then at least a full experience . . . a tasty batch of stories.” Los Angeles Times 

“A gifted Dublin writer takes on the pandemic, in moving, funny stories . . . this book is wry and poignant . . . in Life Without Children, the pandemic is just a supporting player. The stars are Doyle's palpably authentic characters.”Minneapolis Star-Tribune 

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Fantastic, Human, Sometimes Heartbreaking

Fantastic writing and reading. Emotionally heavy, which is inevitable with the subject matter. Great.

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Relatable

So many passages made me laugh, reminding me of so many family members and friends from Ireland. There are sad parts yet the characters have a dry humor at those times. We learn so much about the characters’ current and prior life experiences. Thoroughly enjoyed the narration by Roddy Doyle, his voice and writing made me feel like I was not only in Ireland but in these homes and neighborhoods. It is amazing how much information Roddy Doyle conveys about each person in only the length of a short story. I will definitely listen to this again.