City of Bohane

Kevin Barry: City of Bohane (Author: Kevin Barry
Original title: City of Bohane
Original language:
Number of pages: 277
Published by: Jonathan Cape
Release date: 2011
Rights contact: Prava i prevodi

Add on Goodreads

A futuristic-apocalyptic Western thriller, influenced by cinema, comics, and pop culture.

About the book

The novel City of Bohane takes place in 2053, in the West of Ireland. Its protagonists converse in a mix of regional dialect and invented speech. Somehow Barry manages to combine the impossible: an immensely readable text and an immensely serious linguistic experiment, whose prose is propelled by lively dialogue, disarming black humour, and poetic descriptions of the Irish countryside. Meanwhile, the city of Bohane itself is imbued with a bitterly appealing, sombre charge worthy of Nick Cave himself.

Bohane is the beating heart of creation, surrounded by Big Nothin’ and sand dunes inhabited by the malevolent sand-pikeys. The river Bohane, which runs through the centre of the city, seeps with rotting contagion, inhaled by the denizens of Bohane as they go about their daily lives – drinking, whoring, shooting up, fighting, obsessing over fashion and music. There are no cars in the ecologically devastated Bohane, no mobile phones, no computers; people either walk or ride the El train, listen to the radio, write love letters.

Conflict arises when one of the local mafia families stabs the member of another, accompanied by the return of the Gant Broderick, the former head of the Back Trace Fancy, who is plagued by romantic nostalgia for the wife of Logan Hartnett, the Back Trace Fancy’s current leader. Bohane finds itself in the midst of a blood feud and a romantic drama while facing certain civilisational collapse. Yet nothing is as it seems. When, in the end, the old gives way to the new, appearances prove to be deceptive.

This futuristic-apocalyptic Western thriller, in which one can trace the influences of cinema, cult American TV series, comics, and pop culture, as well as the musical stylings of calypso, ska, and skunk, sketches a world beneath the shining surface of global metropoles, but also has much to say about the bonds of fate that accompany the individual from the cradle to the grave. Things couldn’t be bleaker, yet the novel’s black humour, razor-sharp language, and cinematic scenes build into a crescendo – taut and entertaining to the final page. 

Alenka Jovanovski

From reviews

Kevin Barry is a great storyteller, and the twists and turns of City of Bohane are satisfying, if, in places, familiar (all gangland narratives seem compelled to have the same dreary combination of over-sentimentality and violence).

—Scarlett Thomas, The Guardian


Tricky the paths a long love might follow, like the spiral down twists of a raindrop on a windowpane.

About the author

Kevin Barry

Irish writer Kevin Barry, born 1969, author of the short prose collections There Are Little Kingdoms (2007), Dark Lies the Island (2012) and That Old Country Music (2020), and novels City of Bohane (2011), Beatlebone (2015) and Night Boat to Tangier (2019), also works as a playwright and screenwriter.

He has received many prominent awards for his work, including the Goldsmiths Prize (2015), the international IMPACT Dublin Award (2013), the European Prize for Literature (2012), the Authors' Club First Novel Award (2011), the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (2007), and The Sunday Times Short Story Award (2012). His novel Night Boat to Tangier was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2019.

Outstanding awards and distinctions

  • 2007 – Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (There are Little Kingdoms)
  • 2011 – shortlisted for Costa Book Award (City of Bohane)
  • 2012 – The Sunday Times Short Story Award (Beer Trip to Llandudno)
  • 2012 – Authors' Club First Novel Award (City of Bohane)
  • 2012 – European Prize for Literature (City of Bohane)
  • 2013 – International Dublin Literary Award (City of Bohane)
  • 2013 – Edge Hill University Short Story Prize (Dark Lies the Island)
  • 2015 – Goldsmiths Prize (Beatlebone)



  • City of Bohane (2011)
  • Beatlebone (2015)
  • Night Boat to Tangier (2019)

Short story collections

  • There Are Little Kingdoms (2007)
  • Dark Lies the Island (2012)
  • That Old Country Music (2020)

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Literary Cooperative