In attempting to bring a suspected war criminal to justice, a lawyer wrestles with power, accountability, and her Jewish identity.
In a quiet forest in Belarus, two boys make a gruesome find that reveals a long-kept secret: the mass grave where Stalin’s police buried thousands of murder victims in the 1930s. The results of the subsequent investigation—30,000 dead—has far-reaching effects, and across the Atlantic in Toronto, young lawyer Leah Jarvis finds herself tasked with an impossible case: the trial of elderly Stefan Drozd, a former member of Stalin’s forces, who fled his crimes in Kurapaty for a new identity in Canada. Though Leah is convinced of Drozd’s guilt, she needs hard facts. Determined to bring him to justice, she travels to Belarus in search of witnesses—and finds herself piecing together another set of evidence: her mother’s death, her father’s absence, the shadows of her Jewish heritage. Lyrical and wrenching by turns, The Singing Forest is a profound investigation of memory, truth, and the stories that tell us who we are.
PRAISE FOR THE SINGING FOREST
“The Kurapaty mass grave near Minsk, Belarus, was used to hide the bodies of thousands murdered by Stalin’s secret police from 1937 to 1941. This novel of witness tells the story of the prosecution of a war criminal hiding in Canada. There is self-discovery. There is torture and false confession. There are affidavits and dark nights of the soul. There is Leah’s painful search for witnesses driven by her “damaged, obstinate heart.” And searingly, as McCormack writes, there are the voices of the dead who cry out, “We are here. We are waiting.” Know this history through your heart, through the empathetic imagination of McCormack’s fiction.”—Kim Echlin, author of The Disappeared