Barry's exotic language brings eerie world to life
Kevin Barry's IMPAC winning debut novel 'City of Bohane' is a terrifying, electrifying and hugely entertaining journey into what the future might be like.
It's set in 2053 on the west coast of Ireland in a chaotic, dying city controlled by several clans; it's a bit like a cross between 'Mad Max' and the ancient Gaelic legends, and Barry's flamboyant language brings this eerie, threatening world vividly to life.
Most of Bohane, including an area called Smoketown, is run by the Hartnett mob. "Smoketown was hoors, herb, fetish parlours, grog pits, needle alleys, dream salons and Chinese restaurants."
But there are several up and coming rivals, who fancy taking over from the Hartnett Fancy mob. So it could all get very nasty in Bohane. Is this how Barry sees the future for Ireland? Is it all downhill for us from the present financial mess?
"There's always some sense of projection from the present in what I write," Barry says. "But the book is an entertainment rather than a prediction."
As in some of his short stories, Barry pushes the boundaries of his language with obvious enjoyment.
For example, one of the characters, Eyes Cusack, describes his brother as follows: "Me brud's gone loolah on accoun' and his missus gobbin' hoss trankillisers like they's penny fuckin' sweets, y'check me?"
Barry glories in exotic language, in twisting and stretching words to conjure up an atmospheric world so tangible the reader can reach out and touch it. He has a growing following of readers who can't get enough of his writing.