City of Bohane
Kevin Barry’s Ireland of 2053 is a place you may not want to be alive in but you’ll certainly relish reading about. This is not a future of shiny technology but one in which history turns in circles and quirks an eyebrow at the idea of ‘progress’. Barry reminds us that the stories of love and power, colliding in violence, have a dark inevitability – irresistible to every generation of storytellers whose greatest challenge is to make the old stories fresh. In City of Bohane he meets that challenge through his interweaving of the satisfyingly familiar with the dazzlingly inventive. Logan Hartnett, Jenni Ching, the Gant, Immaculata and all the extended characters in this layered tale stride or sashay across the pages, recognisable in their outlines and yet unlike any other set of fictional characters in their past-meets-future vernacular and intriguing wardrobes and particularity. Likeable characters wouldn’t survive a minute in Bohane, but compelling characters are in no short supply. In addition to the subversion of archetypes and serving up of what-you-want and playfulness and danger and humour the novel is also, in many places, quite wonderfully moving. None of this would be possible if not for the inspired language of the book which is its greatest triumph.
Forty 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 Northside Rises and the eerie bogs of Big Nothin’ that the city really lives.
For years, the city has been in the cool grip of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. They say his 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… And then there’s his mother.
City of Bohane is a visionary novel that blends influences from film and the graphic novel, from Trojan beats and calypso rhythms, from Celtic myth and legend, from fado and the sagas, and from all the great inheritance of Irish literature. A work of mesmerising imagination and vaulting linguistic invention, it is a taste of the glorious and new.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Set in a fictional city in the west of Ireland, sometime in the future, this rollicking story with its cast of bizarre characters, adventurous language and fantastical plot makes a very impressive debut novel.
Wholly original, vivid sense of imagery and language that deserves re-reading.