City of Bohane is set in west Ireland in 2053. It features a world with minimal laws and technology where feuding gangs compete for control of the city of Bohane. There is public transit in the form of trams, but no cars. Characters write letters rather than phone and music is broadcast on wind up radios. Characters dress in flamboyant clothes and talk in an invented dialect. Barry describes it as a “demented malevolent” world inspired by what “homicidal teenage hipsters” might sound like in 40 years.
“It’s written in Technicolor,” he explains. “It’s intended to be a big, visceral entertainment as well as a serious language experiment.”
The book is influenced by American television, featuring short chapters and “an awful lot” of dialogue. “There’s no question that the best long-form fiction being written now is probably in American television,” explains Barry. “Maybe it’s time novels started stealing something back.”The geography of the fictional Bohane is based on Portugal where Barry was holidaying when he got the idea for the novel.
City of Bohane tracks the lives of the Hartnett Fancy gang which controls most of Bohane. Logan Hartnett runs the family, but is heavily influenced by his 90-year-old mother. A feud between the Hartnett family and the Cusack family begins when a Cusack gets “reefed” (stabbed). Reinforcements arrive and the feud turns into an all out battle for control of the city.