I'm reading a novel by one of my favourite authors, Roddy Doyle: Oh, Play That Thing, the second part of "The Last Roundup" trilogy that began with A Star Called Henry. It's terrific. I've thoroughly enjoyed every one of Doyle's books.
Although my long-running fascination with Ireland and Irish history has finally run its course, Doyle remains a touchstone for me. And although I read so many New York City historical novels that they started to all blend together, and I vowed to take a good long break from that subgenre, Oh Play That Thing takes place in New York City and Chicago during Prohibition, a good 50 years after most of those books are set.
If you haven't read anything by Roddy Doyle, I recommend Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the 1993 Booker Prize, which is narrated by a 10-year-old boy, and The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, which is narrated by a 40-year-old woman.
"The Barrytown Trilogy" is also very enjoyable: The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van. They've all been made into movies, for which Doyle wrote the screenplays. These books are light reading, but the characters are complex, and they evolve in ways both credible and touching.
Doyle has an unerring ear for dialogue and a profound understanding of human motivation. I so admire writers who create page-turning entertainment while illuminating human complexity, both at the same time. (Graham Greene is a master at this.) Most of Doyle's work is humorous and has a light feel, but is also so rich and insightful.
I've seen Roddy Doyle read at bookstores on two occasions, and he seems like a very unassuming, low-key man. Here's a nice interview with him in Salon.