Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy. Published 2013 by HarperCollins. Literary Fiction.

Simon Van Booy has made a name for himself in literary circles with his lovely, poet writing, beautiful love stories and moving short stories. I feel like his latest, The Illusion of Separateness, will be the book that brings him to the attention of the wider reading public.

It's a series of connected short stories about a cast of characters whose stories range much of the 20th century and into the 21st. Martin is a French baker living in California; Amelia a wealthy blind woman living in the Hamptons; John is a British soldier in World War 2; Victor Hugo is a disfigured and amnesiac older man living on the margins. Their stories, and those of other characters, are connected in ways both known and unknown to each other. Van Booy's characteristic poetic writing weaves them together beautifully.

The Illusion of Separateness is definitely a character- and voice-driven book, not long on plot but containing rich character studies and memorable writing. At the same time it raises questions about our responsibilities to others and to ourselves, and how we should view the disadvantaged among us. Who knows who that person might be, what his story is, how his life might touch or have touched our own. There but for the grace of God, as they say.  Illusion posits that we are all closer than we think to each other, that our stories overlap and interlock in ways that might be unlikely or strange but nonetheless true, and asks us to think of others in this way and treat them accordingly. I think it would make an excellent book club choice as there is much material for discussion. It's a lovely, moving read that many readers would enjoy.


FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from the publisher.


Laurie C said...

I've only read one of Simon Van Booy's books, but loved it. I heard him speak one time, too, and he was very interesting. Thanks for this review!

bookspersonally said...

Love your description of the questions the stories raise- wonderful when a book inspires us to be more attentive to the world and those around us

bermudaonion said...

This book has been getting so much love that I've been anxious to read it. The fact that she say it's character driven makes me a little leery.

Andi said...

I definitely think this will bring him to a larger reading audience. I've read almost all of his books (I keep one on the shelves for a rainy reading day). The vignette format really plays to his strength of short story writing, but the fact that they're all so finely woven together will play well to a novel-loving audience.

JoAnn said...

This definitely sounds like my kind of book! So much love for Simon Van Booy in the blogging community... I really need to read him soon.

Anna said...

I haven't read anything by this author, but I've heard nothing but good things. I really want to read this one.