Published by Harper Collins on January 7th 2013
Two beautifully poetic, yet incredibly different, books in a row. I had a great weekend of reading.
The Illusion of Separateness is a series of memories told by a string of strangers in years spanning from 1939 to 2010. Centering on soldiers wounded during World War II and the sacrifices they make, the novel traces the echoes of their choices through the second half of the century.
“When I was eleven, we learned that my condition is permanent. Doctors at a hospital on Park Avenue showed my parents thin squares of plastic that proved it. We were all disappointed. And even though my body was no different, it felt different, as though part of me had died; a part of me strangled by a sentence of bad news.”
Throughout the novel, thoughts are often tapped out in clipped sentences rather than lyrical phrases, a technique that could read cold in a weak author’s hands but feels incredibly intimate coming from Van Booy. Each of the characters has a distinct voice, which makes it possible for the subtle lines to be drawn between them. Reading The Illusion of Separateness is almost like peeking into letters or journals that were meant for someone else, and Van Booy’s beautiful language makes entering their world feel like a secret privilege.
This is my first time reading anything from Simon Van Booy, but I’ve already made it a point to dig into his backlist – he easily gained a fan with The Illusion of Separateness.