Beatsploitation by Kevin Curran


Kevin Curran | Liberties Press

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One good track could change everything…

Just one good track and Rob Lynch can finally quit his suburban teaching job and get his band, the Terrors, once Dublin’s next big thing, the fame and recognition they dream of. But it’s not happening – they need a new sound. When Rob discovers the unique gifts of one of his students, John ‘Kembo’ Pereira, a troubled African teenager with a particular talent for creating beats, he sees an opportunity that might just keep his musical ambitions alive.

As Rob and John’s relationship develops, however, a series of disturbing events unfold that will rock both their lives to the core. And when the Terrors start to crumble, Rob finds out just how far he is willing to go, and what he is willing to lose, in order to keep his dream alive.

Told from the perspective of Rob, a young male teacher, trying to find his way, we watch as two very different men in Irish society struggle with issues of belonging, identity and what it means to be a man in an ever-changing and unforgiving society.

Two really timely, important stories are told in this novel. Rob’s story, of trying to understand his place as a man in a world that is no longer recognisable, is one that many men will identify with. He’s facing a seminal moment; the moment in life when it comes to a choice between letting go of the dream and settling down or giving it one last try. Now, when the role of a man, a husband and a father offers less recognition than it may have 50 years ago, the prospects for fulfilment from this role is no longer what it once was.

The second story is a modern story of New Ireland that is more common today than it has ever been; the story of a non-Irish national trying to find his place in the fabric of a new society. John, as Kembo is known here, is marginalised by his peers and let down by the system. He’s struggling to belong and as readers we watch, paralysed with slow-dawning horror, as we see the potential effects of this crisis on the man he is going to be.

This debut novel is a fresh, energetic, and powerful depiction of a changed society. Modern Ireland is portrayed at times in ways that is uncomfortable to witness but with vigour and a rawness that captures the changed energy of our nation.

Beatsploitation is a strong novel by an impressive new voice. The author, Kevin Curran, a young Irish writer has emerged from the pack following the Irish Writers’ Centre’s highly successful Novel Fair last year. What this novel clearly demonstrates is that despite the difficulties our society faces, we’re still producing some top literary talent that we can be very proud of.

- Reviewed by Emma Walsh