Barry’s second novel is set in 1978 and imagines John Lennon on the west coast of Ireland, his plan is to go to the island he owns, Dorinish— which Lennon really did buy, in 1967 — and to spend days of cathartic solitude there, to confront the trauma of “love, blood, fate, death, sex, the void” and scream until he finds release. The tale of a wild journey into the world and a wild journey within, Beatlebone is a mystery box of a novel. It’s a portrait of an artist at a time of creative strife. It is most of all a sad and beautiful comedy from one of the most gifted stylists now at work.
Barry on his writing process: Paris Review, November 2013:
I myself live in County Sligo in what seem like the perfect conditions for a writer—a room looking out on a swampy lake, all very atmospheric, ethereal mists, yadda yadda, and there’s nothing to fucking do but write. But after about two weeks of this, I need to get out or I’ll go nuts. So I go and cycle around the west of Ireland. I mean I don’t do crazy, German-type distances, but I’ll go maybe forty or fifty kilometers a day. And as you go through all the different towns, you pick up such different senses and reverbs from each place. It isn’t to do with how a place looks—there are run-down, shitty towns that give you a happy, spring-in-the-step feeling—but each place gives off its own very distinct feeling and sometimes it’s light and sometimes it’s really fucking dark.
Kevin Barry is the author of one novel and two short story collections, the most recent of which, Dark Lies the Island, included the story ‘Beer Trip to Llandudno’ for which he won the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012, the world’s premier short story prize. His first collection of stories, There Are Little Kingdoms was published by The Stinging Fly Press in 2007 and was an immediate success. His first novel, City of Bohane(2011) received largely positive reviews and won the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The book is a futuristic, apocalyptic western-thriller, which is highly influenced by film, graphic novels and popular culture. Barry’s writing is brilliantly vivid, his style darkly humorous, in the mould of Flann O’Brien. A unique and compelling voice, he has already been described by Irvine Welsh as ‘the most arresting and original writer to emerge from these islands in years’.