THE FALL OF IRELAND: A Novella

 

"They would return to vastly different worlds when they left the artificial cocoon of this luxurious room, but he knew that a bond existed between them at this moment. Their outside lives were suspended."

While a floundering Irish government maintains its illusion of power, with an International Troika waiting in the wings, Martin - a mid-ranking Civil Servant - finds himself alone in a Beijing hotel: a superfluous accessary in a delegation accompanying a Minister to China.

The officials around him plan to retire with huge pensions once the government falls. But at fifty-five, is Martin ready to join them? Will retirement save or destroy his marriage to the woman he desperately loves, but who feels estranged from him, after their teenage daughters fly the nest?

Bolger's first ever novella, The Fall of Ireland is a subtle meditation on the thin line between illusion and actuality: a study of a homesick man, in the gilded cage of a luxury hotel, trying to unravel which elements of his life are real and which are subconscious deceptions.

In a cat and mouse encounter with a Chinese masseuse, Martin is drawn into a world beyond his experience where once again he struggles to bridge the gap between the chameleon face of someone at work and the actually when everything is stripped bare, with nowhere left to hide from the anxieties, longings and contradictions in his head.

Dermot Bolger's superb new novella explores what changes in the human condition and what remains inalterably enduring. It is published by New Island and details of how to purchase it as available on www.newisland.ie

EARLY PRESS REVIEWS

"This is an oddly compelling short work fiction - compelling because it is told so persuasively that you're engrossed from the opening page, but oddly so because what begins as one type of story becomes something else entirely. Martin through whose consciousness and conscience the story is told is a middle-aged, mid-ranking civil servant who's in Beijing on a trade mission with his Fianna Fail minister of state. Junior Ministers, Martin observes 'were essentially eunuchs, granted the public bauble of a state car and driver to compensate for not being allowed sit or speak at the cabinet table.' But Martin, a dutiful and diplomatic public servant keeps such cynical thoughts to himself. Not from the reader though. such observations (and there are many more) are elegantly withering.

A self-effacing man ('Stranges genuinely enjoyed meeting him and rarely remembered him afterwards') he has always striven to do the right and honourable thing, but now in this moment of crisis he behaves uncharacteristically, requesting the services of a masseuse in his plush hotel room. Bolger handles this awkward interlude with considerable finesse - and real tenderness, too, in his depiction of the masseuse, who in her ordinariness and gaucheness is just as much a lost soul as Martin.

I like, too, that it is a novella. novellas have a distinguished history from Tolstoy's Hadji Murad and James Joyce's The Dead to Maeve Brennan's The Springs of Affection and Claire Keegan's Foster. Bolger's book, running to a mere 105 pages, is a notable addition to the form." - John Boland, Irish Independent

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