If I had an illusion of separateness before reading this book, it was dispelled in the pages as I read, mesmerized from the first paragraph. This novel is evidence of why people read books. The prose is extraordinary, poetic, and in a sense revolutionary as it weaves through time and history dispelling any sense of linear thinking but allowing one to react, feel and ponder the meaning of Life with a big L. I finished the last page and marveled at the power of the writing and then almost immediately, I started it from the beginning and read it again— Gayle's Staff Picks
July 2013 Indie Next List
“Simon Van Booy's newest novel reminded me simply what it means to take joy in reading again. The story, spanning over a number of decades, delicately intertwines the lives of several characters who at a glance seem like strangers at first, but are in fact are making unforgettable impacts on each others' lives. This marvelously written book sinks its teeth into the hell of war, the pain and unspeakable joy of loving another human being, and what it means to grow up and grow older. With the introduction of each new character, pieces of the story begin to fall flawlessly into place, building upon a truth that Van Booy clings to- that there are no coincidences and the experiences we share with others are vital in shaping who we are as individuals. He has crafted such a delicious story with such believable and personable characters that it was difficult to put this book down!”
— Hannah Hester, Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson, MS
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.
About the Author
Simon Van Booy is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, including The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He is the editor of three philosophy books and has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been translated into fourteen languages. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
“The uncanny beauty of Van Booy’s prose, and his ability to knife straight to the depths of a character’s heart, fill a reader with wonder….There are so many wonderful sentences in this book, a reviewer groans for want of room to list them.”
— San Francisco Chronicle
“Masterful prose....From minimalistic sentences he wrings out maximum impact, stripping away artifice and elaboration in favor of stark, emotional clarity and honesty.”
— Boston Globe
“His writing is consciously poetic and at times aphoristic, and he deftly portrays his characters’ raw emotions.”
— Wall Street Journal
“Van Booy writes like Hemingway but with more heart. It’s a gorgeous story about people whose lives are connected all because of a baby who is saved during World War II. Warning: don’t read this in public, or you might sob in front of strangers.”
— New Hampshire Public Radio
“World War II flashbacks, random acts of kindness, and the amazing thing that happens when seemingly disparate story lines come full circle.”
— Daily Candy
“Using restraint and a subtle dose of foreshadowing, Van Booy expertly entangles these disparate lives; but it’s what he leaves out that captures the imagination. Full of clever staccato sentences bookended by snippets of inner monologue -- obvious, but ripe with meaning, the writing is what makes this remarkable book soar.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A spare, elliptical story of human connection, framed by the horror of World War II….The story snaps together beautifully. A brilliant if elusive novel that shows how a single act can echo through time.”
— Library Journal
“This short and deceptively simple novel, which affords the pleasure of discovering its well-wrought patterns, is likely to grow in stature as it lingers in memory.”