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City of Bohane Hardcover – 13 Mar 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (13 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781555976088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555976088
  • ASIN: 1555976085
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 711,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The most arresting and original writer to emerge from these islands in years" Irvine Welsh "Hilarious and unpredictable - and always brilliant" Roddy Doyle "Astonishing.This marks him out as a writer of great promise" Guardian "Beautiful, arresting, precise...a compelling creation" Irish Times "An electrifying masterpiece" Joseph O'Connor

Book Description

Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, shortlisted for the 2011 Costa First Novel Award and winner of the Authors' Club Best First Novel Award - this is a cool, comic, violent and lyrical debut novel from one of Ireland's most talented new writers. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By St. Annie on 3 May 2011
Format: Paperback
What a glorious, dark, weird, wonderful book. Gang warfare in a strange composite of Sligo/Galway/Limerick, in a time not so very far from now, featuring a lover's triangle and more heartstrickenness than "Romeo and Juliet"? Yes, but it works -- or rather doesn't work, just flows and ebbs like the dirty river that divides and centers the town. The old fight and strive to stay young; the young die sometimes before they should; an Ireland at once traditionally homogenous and rampantly multicultural is not only possible but fully here. All ends not with a bang but with a whimper, as I see it, and I finished ready to take a deep breath, pick it back up, and start all over again.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Dec. 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. McCLEAN on 10 Oct. 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 him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave on 2 July 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book, it's gutter poetry. Great imagery, fantastic prose - it's like the Gangs of New York with a Limerick brogue. A book as violent and bleak as this should be depressing and tragic, but this is city is as in tune with it's people as they are with it. I have never read a book where people and place are so entwined. It's not going to be to everybody's taste, but I found it hard to put this book down. It is funny, tragic, violent, cunning and bleak. But there's a terrible beauty as well. It's original and brave and Kevin Barry has a bright future. Very highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Cormac Farrell on 29 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback
I didn't quite know what to expect with this book as it's the first thing I have read by this author. However after 10 minutes I was hooked. I read it slowly to appreciate the massive effort that he has expended in stretching the limits of language to give the City of Bohane a really unique, authentic and otherworldly feel.

The City of Bohane is the real star of the show, being depicted as a cross between the futuristic and dystopian LA of Bladerunner, the violent backstreets of modern day Limerick and the wildest and bleakest parts of Connemara, all of this presented in the depths of a grey and dark West of Ireland winter. Although the story is set in the future (2054)the complete lack of technology, no phones, no computers, no cars, primitive weapons, and the complete lack of law and order gives it a hint of being set in a post apocalyptic world.

In many ways I would liken the plot and the atmosphere to the "Noir" tradition, with complex beautifully drawn charachters, each with their own backstory, their own agenda and ultimately their own motivations. The storyline concerns the attempts of the gang leader, Logan Hartnett, to preserve his place at the top of the pile by outwitting his enemies in the bloody and feudal traditions of the Bohane underworld. As the plot unfolds each of the main charachters moves inexorably towards their own fate. One of the main strengths of the book is that it draws you in to the charachters at a very personal level, so you can't help but turn the pages to see what becomes of each of them.

This is a truly unique work, and as a previous reviewer said, it lives up to the newspaper reviews for a change.

Get this, read it slowly, savour the language and the texture of Bohane and you will see what I mean. Exceptional.
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