Fiction – paperback; Phoenix – Orion Books; 297 pages; 2001.
Shortlisted for the 2000 Booker Prize, Michael Collins‘ The Keepers of Truth has been widely applauded — and with good reason.
I found it to be a gripping, unputdownable read about a misfit journalist working on the biggest story of his new, fledgling career. Bill, the narrator, is well educated and well-off, but he is not unlike the more lowly masses he finds himself writing about — the only difference is the money.
Dark, disturbing and at times downright morbid, Collins’ tale centres on a murder in small town America in the seventies. But it goes way beyond the crime genre, charting the social disintegration of an industrial town in decline.
Some of his descriptions are particularly poignant given the recent events in America:
It’s maybe the greatest secret we possess as a nation, our sense of alienation from everyone else around us, our ability to have no sympathy, no empathy for others’ suffering, a decentralised philosophy of individual will, a culpability that always lands back on us.
Not only is The Keepers of Truth an intelligent read, it’s a gripping read as well.