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City of Bohane: A Novel Hardcover – March 13, 2012
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“City of Bohane, the extraordinary first novel by the Irish writer Kevin Barry, is full of marvels. They are all literary marvels, of course: marvels of language, invention, surprise. Savage brutality is here, but so is laughter. And humanity. And the abiding ache of tragedy.” ―Pete Hamill, The New York Times Book Review (front cover)
“Barry's first novel is a grizzled piece of futuristic Irish noir with strong ties to the classic gang epics of Yore. . . . The genre stew--which incorporates a Machiavellian alcoholic mother, flag-waving street fights, and uncertain alliances--is imbued throughout with Barry's inventively vulgar language.” ―The New Yorker
“As you prowl the streets of Bohane with Barry's motley assortment of thugs and criminal masterminds, you will find yourself drawn into their world and increasingly sympathetic to their assorted aims and dreams.” ―Boston Globe
“City of Bohane offers a dystopian vision that is splendidly drawn if not shockingly inventive. . . . [Barry's] descriptions are notably vibrant (a December day is 'as miserable as hells scullery) and his syntax strikingly creative.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer, Grade: A
“Although Barry has set this bewitching, stylized noir pageant of underworld dynastic upheaval in the grim near-future, it has a timeless air, with spookily beautiful evocations of ancient Irish mythology and an elegiac sense of civilization's attenuation while the old, bred-in-the-bones urges are resurgent.” ―Booklist (starred review)
“Barry seems to relish splashing around in the literary mud puddles left behind by language-obsessed writers like Flann O'Brian, Cormac McCarthy, and Irvine Welsh. Meanwhile, an equally passionate love of film (think Quentin Tarantino and Sergio Leone) casts a flickering shadow over Barry's fictional world's pop culture crashes into language, and they are both dressed to the nines.” ―Shelf Awareness
“This wild-ass ripsnorter, set in Ireland about 40 years from now, is a bravura, Nabokovian mind-blower. . . . It's elegiac, lyrical, rollicking fun that mixes Brian Friel with A Clockwork Orange.” ―Library Journal, "Books for Dudes"
“The best novel to come out of Ireland since Ulysses.” ―Irvine Welsh
“Kevin Barry is a genius. He is doing with his life and his gift exactly what he was put on this earth to do and continues the long and great line of Irish writers. His debut novel City of Bohane is an original and remarkable work of inventiveness. . . . As I read, I felt fortunate to gawp at this wondrous treasure trove of Barry's creativity and mastery.” ―Ethel Rohan
“Kevin Barry is the real thing, and nothing can stop him.” ―David Guterson
“City of Bohane is an unforgettably wonderful novel: hilarious, unique, utterly believable. It's Joyce meets Anthony Burgess, and as funny as Flann O'Brien. We Kevin Barry fans have known for a while that he is a writer of rarest gifts, but this book is an electrifying masterpiece.” ―Joseph O'Connor
“Kevin Barry is unique, a one-man school. His work is hilarious and unpredictable--and always brilliant.” ―Roddy Doyle
About the Author
Kevin Barry was born in Limerick in 1969 and now lives in Dublin. His short fiction has appeared widely on both sides of the Atlantic, most recently in The New Yorker. City of Bohane is his first novel.
Top Customer Reviews
The book's brilliance lies not so much in the plot though. It's a relatively straightforward gang land power struggle. Neither does it solely lie with the great range of characters, although they are amusingly well drawn. From the gangland leader and part time mummy's boy Logan Hartnett, his domineering mother, Girly, to the young pretenders Jenni Ching, Wolfie Stanners and a certain Mr Burke, whose nickname rhymes with `mucker', through to the arch manipulator Ol' Boy Mannion.
Great though these characters are, and Kevin Barry frequently goes to great lengths to describe their bizarre fashion tastes, it is the way that Barry uses language to describe the scenes that is so brilliant. Hardly a page went by without it invoking a smile at the sheer brilliance of the descriptions. It's difficult to give examples, because of the unique style of the language which taken out of context is merely confusing, but in a bar "ceiling fans whirred, noirishly against the night, and were stoical, somehow, like the old uncles of the place, all raspy and emphysemic". He does this again and again.
The book's cultural influences are worn on its sleeve and are wide ranging.Read more ›
Dialogue in the book is in a slang developed to reflect the passing of forty years from now. The city is in the West of Ireland and the dialect is a mixture of Irish slang, bits of Scottish, and new words and twists of old, not to mention some interesting sentence constructs derived from various social groups, primarily itinerants.
So, is it Clockwork Orange, or Trainspotting?
It touches on similar elements, but it is something different. After reading two chapters I was open to the idea that the book might prove ok. Having finished the book I can say it is.
It does take getting used to, but the language used is worth it. Despite the heavily phonetic and oddly constructed sentences, it works and reading it does not jar or cause disturbance. I admit I was reading it quite slowly to begin with, but very quickly I got used to the style and found it helped build the atmosphere.
The core theme is power, and we follow the life of Logan Hartnett, the leader of the dominant gang, and we see how he fairs with three ambitious lieutenants at his back, competing gangs wanting to make a move against his gang's dominance, and the return of his own gang's former leader.
This is a fascinating study of power struggles, power-broking, and, surprisingly enough, the nostalgia one feels for bygone days.
An enjoyable read that demonstrates the comparatively young author understands feelings and emotions of people significantly older than he is.
Having turned normal expectations upside down, the author ultimately creates a strange but often exciting and darkly humorous novel about the bizarre characters who inhabit Bohane, a tiny city on a western peninsula, its day-to-day life controlled by armed gangs and their bosses. Logan Hartnett, also called the Albino, the Long Fella, the `Bino, and H, is the "most ferocious power in the city," ruling the Back Trace, "a most evil labyrinth." He also controls Smoketown, an area of "hoors, herb, fetish parlours, grog pits, [and] needle alleys." The Cusacks, who live in the Northside Rises, are challenging his power, however, and the Gant Broderick, a man who has been gone from Bohane for twenty-five years, has now returned. When a Feud is declared, to much fanfare and the showing of flags and colors, all hell breaks loose.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I read this dystopian near-future novel during a trip to Ireland and Northern Ireland. It captured well a sense of how current trends might be projected on the future city, given... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Victor Bloomfield
A whole new world. A whole new language.
A whole new concept of motherhood.
Extreme violence - more than the sweet baba J can take I think.
Gripping. Tense. Read more
Fun, delightful, and inventive. Like a walk down a crowded street of crazy, colorful characters, a drink in hand, the sun shining brightly and nothing to do but enjoy the sights... Read morePublished 2 months ago by mrthinkndrink
I find the one star ratings rather amusing, especially in reference to the language. Leads me to believe that none of the one-star raters ever tackled other Irish authors (e.g. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MN Wiersema
This is not a great work of plotting or character development. There is no tremendous insight that bubbles up or any deep satiric or other voice at work that has huge things to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Frank Conahan
Good, but kind of dense. You should know a bit about the Irish and their writing.Published 4 months ago by Thomas Pickering
I like Mr. Barry's writing . I just wish kindle had an Irish slang dictionary for us Irish cousins in America .Published 9 months ago by Dennis M O'Driscoll