The Truth Commissioner

David Park, Author . Bloomsbury $24.95 (372p) ISBN 978-1-59691-456-8

In this wrenching what-if exercise, Irish author Park (Oranges from Spain ) invents a fictional truth and reconciliation commission (modeled on South Africa’s real one) that aims to heal Northern Ireland’s troubled past. Three men, all called to testify, have held close the truth about 15-year-old Catholic lad Connor Walshe’s disappearance in 1990, after he was found to be a hapless informer against the IRA. Fifteen years later, former IRA leader Francis Gilroy is now the minister of children and culture; former Royal Ulster Constabulary officer James Fenton, who recruited Connor, is a restlessly retired “inconvenient legacy of the past”; and Michael Madden, then an 18-year-old IRA runner, has been brought back from America to recount his role in Connor’s fate. Overseeing the hearings is Henry Stanfield, burdened by the unleashed emotions and uncomfortably estranged from his pregnant daughter, who is a friend of Connor’s sister. Park’s soulful story about buried secrets, tangled lies and manipulated memories may be a little abstract for readers who didn’t follow the Troubles, but this powerful fiction both humanizes and universalizes the civil war that gripped Ireland for so long. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/24/2007
Release date: 03/01/2008
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-59691-873-3
Hardcover - 372 pages - 978-0-7475-9129-0
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4088-2099-5
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