City of Bohane by Kevin Barry

Profane, cinematic, hilarious, elegiac, brutal, poetic, original. I found City of Bohane to be all these things and more. The language is amazing. It took me a chapter or two to adjust to the vernacular Kevin Barry’s characters employ, but it was well worth the effort.  (You can view the author reading from the book here.)

At the center of the story is the struggle between rival gangs for control of the Irish city of Bohane, but there are also several fascinating subplots involving the personal lives of the gang members. The story takes place in 2053 or thereabouts but this is a world where people interact face to face, not electronically. Mastery of technology is not what’s important in Bohane; it’s loyalty, charisma and ruthlessness that are indispensable in the age old pursuit of power.

I can’t overstate how much I reveled in the language of this book. Two small examples:

“”Mouth of teeth on him like a vandalised graveyard but we all have our crosses.””

“”Macu, polite as the seeping of a poison””

There are many other examples but chances are they’re too bawdy or profane to post here. And be forewarned that these pages are populated by people who are not shy about employing slurs.

I would recommend City of Bohane to readers who like books by Paul Murray, Irvine Welsh, Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos.  Also recommended to lovers of Irish fiction in general and literary fiction readers for whom language is paramount.

If you think of books in cinematic terms, I would compare this novel to the films of Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, and Guy Ritchie.

So visit Bohane.  I found it an unforgettable place.  I think you will too.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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