“For a long time now, he has been aware that anyone in the world could be his mother, or his father, or his brother or sister.
He realized this early on, and realized too that what people think are their lives are merely its conditions. The truth is closer than thought and lies buried in what we already know.”
Simon Van Booy, THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS
In The Illusion of Separateness, award-winning author Simon Van Booy tells a harrowing and enchanting story of how one man’s act of mercy during World War II changed the lives of strangers, and how they each discover the astonishing truth of their connection.
Whether they are pursued by Nazi soldiers, old age, shame, deformity, disease, or regret, the characters in this utterly compelling novel discover in their darkest moments of fear and isolation that they are not alone, that they were never alone, that every human being is a link in an unseen chain.
The Illusion of Separateness intertwines the stories of unique and compelling characters who—through seemingly random acts of selflessness—discover the vital parts they have played in each other’s lives.
Imagine watching an artist begin painting on an empty canvas.
He starts on one of the lower corners with a dark shade that does not seem connected to the light on the top, the texture on the side, or the splash of vibrant color between the two. But slowly, as he works with meticulous brush strokes, the canvas becomes animated by the picture he creates. Those things that are not connected begin to show cohesion, and when he is finished, you can’t imagine any part of the painting existing on its own without the power it possesses as part of the whole.
This description applies to Simon Van Booy’s latest novel THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS. The characters are rich and diverse, separated by age, time, culture, and geography. But like many divergent streams meeting in a river, their stories and longings, loves and losses find one another at different places on the trail.
Van Booy is fast becoming my favorite contemporary author. He has a gift for balancing language and story, and never sacrificing one for the other. The novel is short–just over 200 pages–but it must be read carefully and with reflection, and the reward is great.
If you enjoy literary fiction like that of A S Byatt or Ian McEwan, you will love THE ILLUSION OF SEPARATENESS. I highly recommend it and all of Van Booy’s novels and short stories.