Purgatory, by Tomás Eloy Martínez
Tomás Eloy Martínez
“The disappeared” is a term the Irish know only too well, thanks to the efforts of our own homegrown killers. It was the Argentinian military junta who gave this phenomenon to the world, however, when they decided to “disappear” opponents during their dictatorship of that benighted country in the 1970s and 1980s. In this novel, Tomás Eloy Martínez takes the “disappearance” of Simón Cardoso and tells the story of how his loss shatters the life of his wife, Emilia Dupuy. She is the daughter of someone well-connected to the regime, but even that cannot spare her. She continues to hope that her husband still lives, and “finds” him, unblemished, 30 years later in a New Jersey diner – a sort of Argentinian Oisín returning from Tír na nÓg. Martínez, who lived in exile during the junta’s reign, slowly sketches the devastation that “disappearing” leaves on those left behind, the deep, dark ache of not being able to bury a body and let grief take its course, and the brutality of a society that can so casually cast its own citizens into unending darkness.