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City of Bohane: A Novel Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781555976088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976088
  • ASIN: 1555976085
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #333,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for City of Bohane:
 
"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.

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Customer Reviews

Superb and very original use of language.
John Surridge
It took longer for me to read than books with more direct language, but I didn't mind investing the effort, it was a joy.
Helen Hine
It's original, populated with characters of depth, and rolls out a good story line.
Westarmagh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on December 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Bohane is a thoroughly lawless Irish town, set in what would appear to be some kind of parallel universe. We are told it is set in 2053, but it's a town without any technology or modern luxuries. It's a violent place fueled by alcohol, drugs and lust with a patois style language that takes a little work to get into. Novels with this kind of premise have to be beyond good if they are to interest the annual literary prize judges; this is one such book and "City of Bohane" is nominated for this year's Costa First Novel prize. It is stunningly good.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
In this imaginative and unconventional novel, Irish author Kevin Barry creates an almost feudal, fictional city in the west of Ireland in the year 2053. Instead of being "futuristic," however, the novel is a throwback to simpler pagan times in which life is seen as the rule of the strong over the weak, with vengeance and its inevitable bloodshed a way of imposing control. The lack of real "civilization," which may or may not have existed in Bohane's past, seems to have no connection to any apocalypse, and, despite the 2053 setting, the town has no technology at all, and never has. Though Sweet Baba Jay (Jesus) is often mentioned and is accepted as a living force in the lives of some of the people, their behavior and actions in their dog-eat-dog world more closely resemble the ravening hordes which swept down in pagan times to wreak havoc on weaker tribes.

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.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By T. Edmund on March 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Set in the future (or at least in a place that believes 2053 has long past) The City of Bohane is a brutal place run by gangsta Irish, and their 'hoors'

In this future, or alternative universe, language is much changed. For some this will mean an original refreshing novel, for some (myself) this will mean a confusing mash of bizarre prose and difficult to follow plot.

While an obvious comparison is made to A Clockwork Orange, Barry fails to achieve the same level of moral, political and personal commentary that Anthony Burgess did.

My personal reaction:

Frustration, the authors use of "Gant wore" "Ol'boy saw" continually broke the fourth wall, and reminded me I was reading a story, not immersed in the story.

Barry also couldn't seem to commit fully to a new language, much of the narration and 'letters' characters wrote to each other were in standard english, despite their conversation being completely in 'Bohane speak.'

Ultimately while City of Bohane is a great achievement for Barry, in terms of reader experience the ideas could have been done with a novella or even short story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By P. McCLEAN on October 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I started this book with the idea that it might turn out to be a waste of time. All I knew about it was the blurb inside the front cover. It's about a city, forty years in the future, in which social order breaks down and the running of commercial and social life are under the direction of the strongest gang.

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.
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