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The Commitments (The Barrytown Trilogy, #1; Jimmy Rabbitte, #1)
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The Commitments

(The Barrytown Trilogy #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  14,739 ratings  ·  576 reviews
Barrytown, Dublin, has something to sing about. The Commitments are spreading the gospel of the soul. Ably managed by Jimmy Rabbitte, brilliantly coached by Joey 'The Lips' Fagan, their twin assault on Motown and Barrytown takes them by leaps and bounds from the parish hall to the steps of the studio door. But can The Commitments live up to their name? ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published December 6th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  14,739 ratings  ·  576 reviews

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Glenn Sumi
Sep 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: guardian-1000
I was going to attempt to write this review in the working class Dublin slang that Roddy Doyle’s colourful characters use, but, ya know, Jaysis, I’d come o’ looking like a fuckin’ eejit.

I’m one of the few people on the planet who’s never seen the Alan Parker movie, and when I was in London last fall, I noticed there was even a long-running stage version of it. But I guess through cultural osmosis I knew what the book was about: the making (and abrupt unmaking) of a north Dublin soul band.

It’s r
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015

Have you got Soul? If yes, The World's Hardest Working Band is looking for you. Contact J. Rabbitte, 118, Chestnut Ave., Dublin 21. Rednecks and southsiders need not apply.

I don't think I ever recommended before seeing a movie before reading the book it was based on, but in the case of Roddy Doyle's debut novel I believe this order will enhance the experience. You see, this is a musical novel, and it's done in a combination of dialogue and song lyrics, with minimal stage directions, no descrip
Feb 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland, music, humor, fiction
A short, sweet tale of the birth and short life of an Irish soul band, full of humor and exhilaration. It feels like that sense of delicious surprise at being able to skate on thin ice. Young Jimmy Rabbitte, unemployed resident of a fictional working class neighborhood of Dublin, Barrytown, gets the brilliant idea that Ireland needs sex machine music like James Brown’s. We get the pleasure of his imagination at work as he puts together his band one by one and works up a repertoire of songs.

Jan 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary
Back in the day (I always wanted to use that in one of my reviews) my buddies and I from the old neighborhood had a dream. Besides wanting to be starting shortstops for our favorite baseball teams (Red Sox for me) we wanted to reach fame and fortune through music. There was only one hitch: none of us could sing, and none of us could play an instrument. Nevertheless, we moved forward with our dream and started penning lyrics to songs with no music…our muses were more than confused. For the most p ...more
Dannii Elle
I read Doyle's The Woman Who Walked Into Doors a few weeks ago and found it both a harrowing account of one woman's life, as well as a subversive insight to suburban Irish culture. I was expecting more of the same with his other writing and was, sadly, a little disappointed.

The novel follows the formation of teenage band, The Commitments: through the choosing of band members, the finessing of performance, the highs from the shared passion for music, and the lows after the inevitable in-band cla
Aug 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very early novel by one of my favorite Irish authors, Roddy Doyle. It is part of his focus on contemporary Dublin life.

It is bawdy, funny, touching, profane, surprising and thought-provoking.

Doyle’s writing style pulls you into a Dublin pub and doesn’t make it easy for you to sort things out. I won’t say much more except the title refers directly to a band that Jimmy Rabbitte is asked to form and manage, composed of young Dubliners. The following selection from early in the book shou
Oct 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: random, pub-1987
I went into this book knowing nothing about it, not having seen the movie, certainly not having seen the musical and not being familiar with the Irish institution that is Roddy Doyle.

Initially I thought there was a mistake and I somehow obtained the screenplay for the film rather than the novel. Doyle shows a true bravado in his disregard for what we assume to constitute a novel. His narrative is composed almost entirely of dialogues and some diminished descriptions which are no more than stage
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
‘The Commitments’ (1987) – Roddy Doyle’s debut novel, the first installment in his ‘Barrytown Trilogy’ (the others being: ‘The Snapper’ and ‘The Van’) and subsequent film version (1991) directed by Alan Parker.

Doyle’s book is a great and very funny debut novel which reads like a Dublin based gritty, urban, Blues Brothers-esque (referenced early on in the book) white soul music fairy tale. ‘The Commitments’ tells the story of a ragtag group of friends, ostensibly led by would be impresario Jimmy
Paul Bryant
Oct 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
In the grim north side of Dublin Jimmy decides to put together a band to play soul music from the 60s. His mates think he's mental. They say, But that kind of stuff is sung by... black people. Ain't it? And we're just scummy white kids, ain't we? But Jimmy has a reply to that :

Do you not get it, lads? The Irish are the blacks of Europe. And Dubliners are the blacks of Ireland. And the Northside Dubliners are the blacks of Dublin. So say it once, say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud.

Dean, Jimmy'
Paul E. Morph
I've been meaning to read this book since I fell in love with the film many, many moons ago and I have to say I wish I hadn't waited so long. This is an absolute joy of a book; it's so funny and it just lives and breathes. Doyle really makes the reader feel like they're actually there with the characters.

This will resonate with you more strongly if, like me, you've played in a band or two over the years. It reminded me both of why I miss performing so much and also why I don't!

Are you ready to e
Nancy Oakes
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, I've not yet seen the movie that was made from this book, but now I want to. If the movie is at all true to the book, I know I'm going to love it.

Set in working-class North Dublin, the novel begins with teens Outspan, Derek and Ray, who have formed a new band called And And And. Only in existence for three days, Outspan and Derek decide they need help with the band's direction and go to music-manager guru Jimmy Rabbitte, who"ate melody Maker and the NME every week and Hot Press eve
Dec 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
brilliant! though you end up thinking in an irish accent
Mar 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This bracing, funny, honest, and charming first novel tracks the brief existence of The Commitments, a working-class Dublin band bent on bringing soul to the people. Fortunately for Outspan and Derek, who've decided to form And, And!, And, a syntho-pop cover band (as soon as they get the money to buy instruments, anyway), Jimmy Rabbite consents to be their manager. Jimmy's the sharpest industry observer in northern Dublin ("Jimmy had Relax before anyone had heard of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On goodreads, 320 people listed this as "fiction" and 96 as "Irish literature", which tells you something. Roddy Doyle's first book is a pretty quick read, telling of the rise (and fall) of the "World's Hardest Working Band" in Dublin.

Total time to read: 1.4 hours. Length of the film: 1.98 hours. Then again, Ted Chiang's short "The Story of Your Life" is definitely shorter than 2016's "Arrival". For a first novel, this is awesome, and two more were written in the "Barrytown Trilogy" - the other
Fantastic film, and a great soundtrack.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To be fair I may be the wrong audience to appreciate this book, maybe I need to be from Ireland or have been in a band with a bunch of people who didn't like eachother where only half of them cared about the music but it has become a matter of principle rather than enjoyment to finish this book. It has been the novel equivalent of sitting in a basement listening to a teenage band dink around, swear (admittedly all the eejits, jaysis and arses did make the setting come through loud and clear), ar ...more
A classic. Now the Doyle is writing about middle-aged Jimmy Rabbitte in The Guts, it is essential to go back and remind ourselves of the young Jimmy. In the late 80's, Dubliners were still underemployed, and things were cheaper. They had to be. No one had any money! I have always loved this story of a Dublin soul band. I'd forgotten how short-lived this group was. But while they were together, they had a terrific time. Ireland and Dublin have changed dramatically in 25 years. Ireland boomed and ...more
Bob Lopez
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodness me what a great book!
I really don't know what's all the fuss about... But I'm not Irish so maybe I simply didn't get the vibe and I'm sorry for that :(

It was funny and I laughed a lot. And I appreciate a story of a few young guys from the working class trying to escape from the poverty of 1980s' Dublin through the soul music and become famous.

I simply didn't feel that it was something groundbreaking...
John of Canada
I always give an extra star to a book if I spurt out coffee or corn flakes etc.while reading a passage.I have seen the Commitments movie several times and couldn't imagine the book being better.It was.There were enough differences,that I paid close attention.I also sang along with Deco.The language is atrocious,but that's part of the humour.For those who have seen the movie,the ending of the book is quite different. ...more
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure why it's taken me this long to read 'The Commitments' (I haven't seen the film either), but I purchased the book and decided to read it having heard many good reports about its recently released sequel, 'The Guts'. Such a short book, but what a treat!

I'm sure the narrative is pretty familiar to most-it was to me, just through clips I'd seen of the movie / things I'd read over the years about the book-but I have to say that, in the short time it took me to read the book, I was freque
Apr 06, 2018 rated it liked it

That’s the problem with reading a book after watching the movie (or vice versa). If you liked the first, the second has to be really brilliant for you to like it.

The 1991 Alan Parker movie is one of my all times favorites, and the book……it was ok, but from my point of view, a disappointment.

First, a short book that has a considerable percentage of it wasted on lyrics of songs in uppercase is kind of lame…..considering that I saw the movie (which had a different set of songs), where you actually
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: masters
Of dreams and dreamers. Light-hearted, funny, charming. I'd even give it 4.5 compared to the other books I'm reading/have recently read. Read in 5h. ...more
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, comedy
First book of the year ... off of my "100 books" poster. Fun read, at least the parts I could understand. ...more
Apr 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
An expanded version of this appears on The Irresponsible Reader.


Will yeh please put your workin' class hands together for your heroes. The Saviours o' Soul, The Hardest Workin' Band in the World, —Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes —The Commitments.
This is a tough one for me to talk about -- long time fan, read it a dozen or so times, it's all I can do to not turn total fan-boy and just gush. eh, I might not try too hard.

It's the late 80's and three young Dubliners (from the poorest part of Dublin) have fo
Jul 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
This is a light, enjoyable read, worth spending a long and gloomy afternoon on, as I just have.

Prior to reading the novella, I was already familiar with the atypical graphological and linguistic features of Doyle's work, having briefly glanced over an excerpt in class, and, being a fan of theatre, knew something of the plot, thanks to the West End musical, so there were really no surprises for me. In fact, it's a book I've long been meaning to read.

It's a minimalist novel, I suppose, highly re
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ireland, reviewed
What a fresh change to the books I've been reading lately. The Commitments is a story told almost only through dialogue in Dublin slang, kind of like a play, but at the same time more like a novel. It tells the funny, straightforward, and honest story of a short-lived Dublin band consisting of teenagers with bigger-than-life egos whose bravadoes don't fool anyone - except maybe the other teenagers. The band is nannied by a balding middle-aged man who, according to himself, has performed with Jam ...more
The Commitments is a small band formed in Dublin by a group of young and unemployed folks. Their one goal in life is to bring SOUL to Dublin. The biggest problem is the leading members really don't know that much about music history, so they hire a friend to manage them and help create the image they have for themselves.

There isn't a lot of story here. Quite simply it is about music, but deeper than that is the will to be more, to bring more to the table. Quick read, which was nice in that it wa
Garlan ✌
A quick little read; heavy on dialogue. Irish dialogue. Very thick and very fast. I loved the movie and wanted to read the book before I watched it again. I really liked the antics of Jimmy and the gang as they progressed from a group of wannabe musicians to small time fame in central Dublin. There's a great group dynamic going on behind the story; everyone's in love with the backup singers, everyone hates the lead singer, Joey The Lips Fagan keeps everyone on an even keel, and Jimmy tries to ke ...more
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cockney accent dialogue of working class Dublin is humorous once you figure it out. Do yourself a favor and view the 1991 classic film, The Commitments. Then download the CD from iTunes and sit back and enjoy the people’s sound.
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Roddy Doyle (Irish: Ruaidhrí Ó Dúill) is an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter. Several of his books have been made into successful films, beginning with The Commitments in 1991. He won the Booker Prize in 1993.

Doyle grew up in Kilbarrack, Dublin. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from University College, Dublin. He spent several years as an English and geography teacher before becoming

Other books in the series

The Barrytown Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Snapper (The Barrytown Trilogy, #2)
  • The Van (The Barrytown Trilogy, #3)

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