RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewCity of Bohane, the extraordinary first novel by the Irish writer Kevin Barry, is full of marvels. They are all literary marvels, of course: marvels of language, invention, surprise. Savage brutality is here, but so is laughter. And humanity. And the abiding ache of tragedy … In prose that is both dense and flowing, Barry takes us on a roaring journey, among human beings who are trapped in life its own damned self. Nostalgia grips many of them, even when they slash angrily at sentimentality. None of it is real, yet all of it feels true … Reading this novel, with all of its violence, I also felt a kind of joy exuding from its author. The joy of finding, and sustaining, a voice. The joy of being surprised by his own inventions. I suspect that any reader, including the Irish, will sense that joy. It’s about freedom.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe story is bound together by memory as a kind of highlight film. Which is to say, by memory as it actually is and not as a neat, banal narrative or a huge baroque melodrama ... [Tinti] has a deep feeling for the passage of time and its effect on character. And when it’s appropriate, she can use her vivid language to express the ripping depth of human pain. As this strikingly symphonic novel enters its last movement, the final bars remind us that of all the painful wounds that humans can endure, the worst are self-inflicted. The evidence is there in the scar tissue that pebbles the body of Samuel Hawley, and there too in the less visible scars on his heart.