Back in March I sat in a classroom and heard Kevin Barry read one of his short stories aloud. I found myself quickly mesmerized by his deft juggling of the English language. By the end of the week I owned his two books of short stories and his novel, City of Bohane. It has taken me an unconscionable length of time to begin City of Bohane, but now that I have completed it, I must tell you about it immediately.I don’t know exactly how to describe the plot of this novel. It is set in the future, in Ireland. The city is controlled by gangs, most notably the Hartnett Fancy (what is a Fancy, you might ask). Logan Hartnett controls the Fancy (since it took me much of the book to really find out, I will let you discover for yourself) and much of the novel centers around him and those attached to him as they experience a year of life in the ever-changing city.
Stylistically, it’s part steampunk, part film noir, part American Western, part 20s gang flick. It could be some strange amalgamation of Sin City and Ulysses. And yet it is also not truly like any other novel I have ever read or heard of. Somewhat like A Clockwork Orange, you are dropped into a strange land of slang and reference to which you are provided no key other than your own interpretation of context. I encourage you to just read a few chapters. If you are not sucked in by the strangeness of the language and the intensity of the characters, then I will be a surprised woman. If at all possible, grab the audio book as well. Kevin Barry, as I have mentioned, is an amazing reader and listening to him read from this novel is sure to suck you in and send a shiver of pleasure down your spine. Let me show you what I mean:
Curl up and binge this one friends.