At the time of his win, Roddy Doyle was better known for the screen versions of his books than for the books themselves. He had already won a BAFTA for The Commitments.
Doyle, shortlisted for the prize in 1991 with The Van, won with a novel taking a year in the life of a misunderstood ten-year-old Dublin boy, Patrick ‘Paddy’ Clarke. Like most of his work, the novel is driven by dialogue rather than plot. Doyle’s reputation as a humourist meant that the poignancy and foreboding in the book came as a surprise to readers expecting something more joshing.
Although all three books in his Barrytown Trilogy have been filmed, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha remains solely on the page.