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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, original, stylish, violent, beautiful and unique
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...
Published on 6 Dec 2011 by Ripple

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but ultimately disappointing
I bought this book because I read a short article by Kevin Barry which was beautifully and descriptively written with the most exciting and different prose I'd heard in a long time. This novel is full of the same unusual and captivating script and it kept me interested all the way through. At times it provoked me to shock and awe and it was certainly a journey of...
Published on 30 April 2011 by Greg


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, original, stylish, violent, beautiful and unique, 6 Dec 2011
By 
Ripple (uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: City of Bohane (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. Most obviously in literary terms, there are elements of "A Clockwork Orange" but in terms of the imagery, it's very cimematic, and in fact the film right have already been sold. "Gangs of New York" in particular springs to mind in style terms. There are also hints of deeper mythologies throughout and indeed, the relationship between Logan and his mother is all very "Grendal".

Violent and scary though Bohane is, you get a strong sense that Barry very much likes his creation. It's usually a fair bet that when a male author clothes his young female characters in catsuits that this is very much a place he'd like to be! It's probably fair to say that it's a book that has more male reader appeal to it just because of the subject matter. It's probably not the best Christmas present for your Granny, unless she has a penchant for swearing and "hoors, herbs, fetish parlours, grog pits and needle alleys".

Brilliant too is the vernacular of Bohane. Although at first this can be difficult to penetrate, it makes great sense ("peepers" are eyes for example) and the use of repeated phrases like "y'check" and "ye sketchin" invoke gang culture and language. Barry is also very good at the physical and environmental influences on the people and the city. The cold dark heart of the book is the Bohane river that gives this city its name.

Also interesting is the relationship between this future-set world and nostalgia. The older characters, including the banished former gang leader, are all prone to nostalgia and while the book is set in the future, the world is very much one of the past in terms of the lack of technology.

The subject matter and style won't be to everyone's taste, but it's a book that I could enthuse about for hours. It's hugely original, completely stylish and quite possibly brilliant. Real life is quite dull after you've visited Bohane - I want to go back, "y'check me?".
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars effin' gorgeous, as any of its characters might say, 3 May 2011
This review is from: City of Bohane (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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Violent yet strangely beautiful, 25 Nov 2011
By 
I Readalot (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: City of Bohane (Paperback)
`The City of Bohane' had been sitting on my `must read pile' for a couple of months, finally forcing itself to the top by being shortlisted for the Costa first novel award. Why did I leave it so long? It is violent, funny, intelligent, imaginative and strangely beautiful. Bohane, on the west coast of Ireland was once a great city, we encounter it 40 years into the future when it is a `sin city', run by various gangs and full of murder, drugs and prostitution. Logan Hartnett of the Fancy gang has kept it under control for years but things are changing starting with the return of Gant, the previous leader of the gang. A feud is due with all the bloodshed it will entail, but then peace can only last for so long, betrayal and changes of allegiance are on the cards.

The basic plot may not be completely new but it is the way the story is told that kept me riveted to the page. The language is a form of patois, but it isn't hard to understand the meaning behind the words. The fight between the gangs isn't described as it happens but we learn about it from a set of `still' images through the eyes of Balthazar Grimes, the photographer for the `Vindicator' as he develops the images, deciding which he will use. Hartnett and Gant are joined by a cast of thoroughly disreputable characters, unlikeable yet at the same time, comic. Harnett's old mother is an inspired creation and possibly the only person he is truly scared of. Then there is Macu, Hartnett's wife and the love of his life who has a history with Gant.

I loved this book and can see the author picking up a cult following. The language may be a bit strong for some readers, but it is integral to the story, sounds natural coming from the characters and does add to the overall dark humour that permeates the novel. Recommended for anyone looking for something a bit different.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Irish gem, y'check?, 2 July 2011
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This review is from: City of Bohane (Kindle Edition)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, y'check?, 19 Mar 2013
This review is from: City of Bohane (Kindle Edition)
Funny, terrifying, strange and beautiful. A real murky poem of a book. Some of the best writing I've had the pleasure to read in a long time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Apprehension turned to delight, 10 Oct 2011
By 
P. McCLEAN (Dublin) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: City of Bohane (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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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but ultimately disappointing, 30 April 2011
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This review is from: City of Bohane (Paperback)
I bought this book because I read a short article by Kevin Barry which was beautifully and descriptively written with the most exciting and different prose I'd heard in a long time. This novel is full of the same unusual and captivating script and it kept me interested all the way through. At times it provoked me to shock and awe and it was certainly a journey of wonderful imagination.
Why then did I come away from it somewhat disappointed?
I didn't like or connect with any of the characters and that is probably the first time in my life that I have said that about a book set in Ireland. I didn't care very much what happened to any of them because they are, for the most part, self-centred and cruel, both verbally and physically. There are few discernible layers to most of them and the same can be said of the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 1 July 2013
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This review is from: City of Bohane (Kindle Edition)
Finished in 2 days, one of the best books I've read in the last 5 years. Clockwork Orange meets The Field.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 24 May 2013
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This review is from: City of Bohane (Kindle Edition)
Despite its setting in a future period, the characters and their principles (or lack there of) have a decidedly old fashioned or traditional gangster feel. The prose is very evocative and the characters almost leap off the page with personality and complexities. A surprising page turner....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wouldn't wanna live there..., 9 Nov 2012
This review is from: City of Bohane (Paperback)
Fascinating book which I loved and although set in the future, the lack of technology is certainly not the most noticeable thing about it. The story itself won't win any prizes but the use of langauage and the sense of style and danger of everyone concerned is what sets this apart. I have found myself thinking time and again about some of the terminology and language used and I will be returning to the City of Bohane again just to revisit all of this and that's not something I usually do with books. This is just crying out to be made into a film and seems perfectly set up for this to happen.
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City of Bohane
City of Bohane by Kevin Barry (Paperback - 5 April 2012)
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