The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Whether they are
pursued by Nazi soldiers, old age, shame, deformity, disease, or regret,
the varied characters of Simon Van Booy's utterly compelling novel The
Illusion of Separateness 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.
emotional story intertwines the stories of several compelling
characters: a deformed German infantryman; a lonely British film
director; a young, blind museum curator; Jewish-American newlyweds
separated by war; a lost child on the brink of starvation; and a
caretaker at a retirement home for actors in Santa Monica. The same
world moves beneath each of them, and one by one, through seemingly
random acts of selflessness, they discover the vital parts they have
played in each other's lives, a realization that shatters the illusion
of their separateness. Moving back and forth in time and across
The Illusion of Separateness displays the
breathtaking skill of, "a truly special writer who does things with
abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath
literally catches in your chest" (Andre Dubus III).
My thoughts: This is a short book featuring people who are seemingly unrelated. Each chapter is told by a different voice and each voice adds more to the relationships. Most are unaware how each of the characters play a pivotal point in the others lives. By the end, the reader knows how they are all related even if the characters don't.
I liked the book just fine. I enjoyed the writing style. I was not particularly moved but I did like the concept. I found the interconnectedness both lonely because they didn't realize it which was sad. Yet there was a smidgen of hope.