The Snapper by Roddy Doyle

The Snapper is a hilarious book. I wouldn’t describe it better than Blitz, who declare it a “rip-snorting comedy of everyday life.” However, I laboured through it because it is written, by Roddy Doyle, in Irish English. I none the less thoroughly enjoyed the humour and suspense.

I didn’t know the meaning of ‘snapper’ until I read this book. Sharon, a 20 year old presumably Irish girl, is accidentally impregnated by someone known to her and her parents. She announces the news of her pregnancy to Jimmy Rabbitte, her father, and her mother Veronica but refuses to tell them who is responsible for it.

There was a hint of racism though, when Mr. Rabbitte was interrogating Sharon about the pregnancy. Here is an excerpt:

He looked at Sharon.

-He isn’t black, is he?


He believed her. The three of them started laughing.

-One o’ them students, yeh know, Jimmy Sr explained. – With a clatter o’ wives back in Africa.

Her parents were not mad at her but they really wanted to know who the father was. They were deeply concerned whether he was married or not, black or white, whether he would marry her, whether she would keep it or abort it and what the neighbours would say.

She wanted to keep it although she knew he wouldn’t marry her. He was old and ugly and had a wife and Yvonne, his daughter, was her friend. Sharon frequently met her friends, Yvonne, Mary and Jackie, for a drink and they eventually all knew she was pregnant but she also didn’t tell any one of them the truth about who the culprit was.

Sharon was working already but she was still living with her parents and siblings; Rabbitte Jr, Darren, Les and Linda and Tracy, the twins. Their house was a circus of comedy everyday throughout her pregnancy. The kids had their own shenanigans, the folks had their drama and Sharon became the centre of all their attention.

It all happened when she was drunk and so she didn’t even remember everything properly. But she knew who it was. She remembered staggering out of the club into the parking lot to get some fresh air and it was there that a sperm found its way into her reproductive system.

Most of the scenes revolve around Mr. Rabbitte’s house and the pub where they alternately frequent for drinks, to discuss the pregnancy and to have a good laugh. The general theme is how pre-marital pregnancy is frowned upon in the society.

If you don’t like a lot of swearing or curse words, this not a book for you. All the main characters use foul language jokingly, and I found it hilarious. With just over 200 pages, it is a relatively short work but I would recommend it to anyone with a sharp sense of humour.


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