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City of Bohane (2011)

by Kevin Barry

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4672545,823 (3.85)51
Set 40 years in the future, the once great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is in terminal decline, with vice and tribal splits rife. Logan Hartnett, godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang has been in charge but his nemesis has arrived back in town, his henchmen are becoming ambitious, his wife wants him to give it all up and go straight and, he has his mother to contend with.… (more)
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» See also 51 mentions

English (22)  Spanish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
I don't know how I feel about this book. I may change my rating tomorrow. I really don't know.

update 16 November, 2017: when I first finished this book, I was struck by how little I cared about these characters, how their overwhelmingly negative aspects seemed to outweigh all positive wonder at how unique and interesting a book this is. Really, I'm sooo sick of gangsters.

After thinking about it a while, I decided that the ending, as well as the premise and execution in general, deserve another star. At least. I'm still a little torn.

In some ways, this book bucks expectations (in plot, as well as in generic tropes), but in other ways it seems to go the lazy way forward and that's what's still holding me back from giving it more stars. Right now I'm thinking specifically about Jenni using the "that guy touched me inappropriately" lie to prompt Wolfie to go after Tubby. Booooring. And this book's relationship with women is complicated, which is sometimes useful and intriguing and sometimes just gross. Is it worth it to get through the gross to the end? Sure. I think.

One thing that can be said for it is that it's got me thinking. A LOT.

Update, 7 January, 2017: I'm writing an essay on this and looking through the book I ended up rereading the whole thing. I liked it more this time around. ( )
  J.Flux | Aug 13, 2022 |
I liked the swirl of displacement and wonder that I went through trying to get my bearings in this gang-dominated post-apocalyptic coastal Irish city. I'm sure Irish readers would get more from the text than I did but I enjoyed the plunge into unfamiliar territory. By the end I was a little tired of the sartorial details (what economy supported all this fashion action?) and gang leader strategizing. It felt like it was heavily inspired by the 1928 book The Gangs of New York. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gangs_of_New_York_(book)) I read another book that included that work as a mainstay, Helprin's White Horse. A little disappointed by the changing of the guard at the end and the complete disappearance of one of our characters. I would be interested in reading something else by this author. ( )
  Je9 | Aug 10, 2021 |
Wow! Barry has created a future, dark world of Bohane. The description of the city is something right out of Pinky Blinders and the characters are incredible. Be prepared to read a book unlike anything you have ever read. ( )
  ghefferon | Jun 12, 2021 |
“It was one of those summers you’re nostalgic for even before it passes. Pale, bled skies. Thunderstorms in the night. Sour-smelling dawns. It brought temptation, and yearning, and ache – these are the summer things.”

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

Bohane, on the west coast of Ireland has seen better days. The novel takes place forty years in the future and this once promising city is now a corrupt morass of dangerous, yet colorful citizenry, all scrambling to survive. Think a mash-up of A Clockwork Orange and Gangs of New York. Barry is a master wordsmith but be forewarned the narrative can be tricky to navigate. There are plenty of rewards for sticking it out though. Bigger than life characters, warring gangs, double-crosses and a simmering, toxic, stew of a city. I have to share another quote, to better showcase his remarkable ability:

“The EL train was customarily sad in this last stretch before dawn, that much had not changed. The screech of it was a soul's screech. If you were lying there in the bed, lonesome, and succumbed to poetical thoughts, that screech would go through you. It happens that we are often just so in Bohane. No better men for the poetical thoughts.” ( )
  msf59 | Mar 28, 2021 |
A rollicking read. Mad Max meets The Sopranos in the ruins of a future Ireland. Funny, violent and full of twists with a memorable cast of characters - but pretty sure it could’ve done without the casual racism (minus one star). ( )
  alexrichman | Apr 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
"On display, even more than the strutting characters' fashion sense, is the author's virtuosic writing: he has created a unique vernacular of Irish speech patterns mixed with Caribbean terms, delivered in a breathless, conversational style. This hybrid will be of interest both to fantasy and to literary fiction readers."
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, John R. Cecil (Nov 1, 2011)
 
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Set 40 years in the future, the once great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is in terminal decline, with vice and tribal splits rife. Logan Hartnett, godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang has been in charge but his nemesis has arrived back in town, his henchmen are becoming ambitious, his wife wants him to give it all up and go straight and, he has his mother to contend with.

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The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees. Infested by vice and split along triballines, there are still some 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, Bohane has been in the cool grip of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But now they say his old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious and there’s trouble in the air...
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