22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Kevin Barry

Portrait Kevin Barry
© Hartwig Klappert

Kevin Barry was born in Limerick, Ireland in 1969. He spent much of his youth traveling to such places as Santa Barbara, Barcelona, and Liverpool. In Cork, Barry worked as a freelance journalist and wrote a column for the »Irish Examiner«. In this time, he withdrew to a camper van for six months to write in peace, but was not happy with the resulting novel. The ambition of the self-proclaimed »raging egomaniac« is manifest also in his statement that he will not be happy until he has received the Literature Nobel Prize.

In 2007, Barry won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature with his collection of short stories »There Are Little Kingdoms« (2007). He subsequently published stories in »The New Yorker« and in the anthology »The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story« (2012). In 2011, Barry published his first novel »City of Bohane«, a vision of the year 2053 in which chaos and violence rule in a once important settlement on Ireland’s west coast, where the boss of a gang has to deal not only with an old archenemy, but also with intrigues in his own ranks. Barry manages to intertwine past and future to produce a scenario that is simultaneously futuristic and nostalgic. Cell phones and computers do not exist in this world; letters are the means of communication. The »Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger« remarked in a review: »The tissue of intrigues and betrayal is more reminiscent of a Brecht/Weill opera than of a 21st-century novel. First comes a full stomach, then morality. Barry’s novel is not of these times.« For this debut work, the writer received the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and the lavishly endowed International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, trumping competition from heavyweights like Haruki Murakami and Michel Houellebecq. The Lord Mayor of Ireland’s capital and the patron of the prize, Naoise Ó Muirí, explained this decision in part with Barry’s outstanding characterization of extravagant and treacherous figures and with his unmistakable jargon. The »Montreal Gazette«, in contrast, described the author as what would result if Roddy Doyle and Nick Cave could reproduce together. » Dark Lies the Island«, a second volume of short stories, appeared in 2013 and won the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize in the same year. In 2013, as editor, Barry also published the anthology »Town And Country: New Irish Short Stories«.

Kevin Barry lives in Dublin.