Synopses & Reviews
* Shortlisted for the 2011 Costa Book Award in the First Novel category * A blazingly original, wildly stylish, and pulpy debut novel "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 page) Forty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But theres trouble in the air. They say Hartnetts old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight.
"Barry's debut novel, a near-future noir, takes readers on a walking tour of Bohane, an apocalyptic fictional city on Ireland's west coast. One of its seedier precincts, the Back Trace, is ruled by underworld boss Logan Hartnett of the Hartnett Fancy gang, who governs like an Irish Don Corleone. But the graying Hartnett finds his power threatened when his rival, the Gant Broderick, returns after a 25-year absence. Hartnett also has to cope with an upstart gang, the Cusacks, that wants to take over the Trace. To make matters worse, his wife, Macu, who is also the Gant's former lover, wants him to give up the life. And finally, tough Fancy girl Jenni Ching, a 'saucy little ticket' with a 'pack of feral teenage sluts at her beck 'n' call in the Bohane Trace,' may be playing both ends against the middle. How Hartnett handles these various crises forms the dramatic core, but with so many literary influences running through it, the novel reads as if China Mieville and Irvine Welsh had collaborated to update Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest. Although this sort of future-shock noir is nothing new and the elliptical narrative peters out before it reaches its inconclusive climax, the author succeeds with a continual barrage of hybrid language reminiscent of Anthony Burgess at his A Clockwork Orange best." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In prose that is both dense and flowing, Barry takes us on a roaring journey, among human beings who are trapped in life its own damned self....None of it is real, yet all of it feels true. This powerful, exuberant fiction is as true as the Macondo of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Yoknapatawpha County of William Faulkner and, in a different way, even the Broadway of Damon Runyon. Those places were not real. The stories remain true." Pete Hamill, The New York Times Book Review
"Roll up Joyce, Dickens, Anthony Burgess and Marty Scorsese, sprinkle with a dash of Terry Gilliam, and smoke up. That's roughly the literary experience to be had from ingesting this marvelously mashed-up creation....Barry's addictive dialect and faultless confidence make this volatile novel a rare treat." Kirkus Reviews
“The best novel to come out of Ireland since Ulysses.” Irvine Welsh
"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
"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 hell's scullery') and his syntax strikingly creative." Cleveland Plain Dealer
Forty or so years in the future. The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are the posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the North Rises, and the eerie bogs of the Big Nothin' that the city really lives. For years it has all been under the control of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there's trouble in the air. They say Hartnett's old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and his missus wants him to give it all up and go straight. Kevin Barry's City of Bohane combines Celtic myth and a Caribbean beat, fado and film, graphic-novel cool and all the ripe inheritance of Irish literature to create something hilarious, beautiful, and startlingly new.
About the Author
Kevin Barry's short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. City of Bohane was short-listed for the Irish Novel of the Year and the Costa First Novel awards, and won the Authors Club Best First Novel Award. He lives in County Sligo in Ireland.