To read Kevin Barry's "City of Bohane" is to experience a verbal cross of Joyce and Burgess, with perhaps a bit of Russell Hoban's "RIdley Walker" in the background. Joyce of course is no surprise -- this is Irish writing, after all -- and I am referring to the "Clockwork Orange" style of Anthony Burgess, with all the appropriate violence and mayhem in content and in style. Hoban I think of for the somewhat futuristic additions in this novel. At points I wondered if this could in fact be described as fantasy, but that would be stretching things unnecessarily.
There's humour here, to be sure, and a lovely quirk of describing what everyone looked like in a repeated refrain that runs throughout the book and finally becomes a little comfort in the midst of despair.
I won't talk about plot but do want to say this: it's clearly a man's fiction, with most of the characters male, and it could have used more character reveal, to my view. But that is clearly not the intent with this novel. It's something else. A real linguistic hurly burly, and well worth a look.