Chatscript from Simon Van Booy’s visit to #litchat on August 30, 2013 can be read here.
Six characters slip in and out of focus in The Illusion of Separateness, Simon Van Booy’s lyrical new kaleidoscope of a novel. Early in the novel a sense of connectedness emerges when a Los Angeles handyman working at a Santa Monica retirement home in 2010 welcomes an amnesiac World War II veteran dubbed Victor Hugo. The beginning chapters introduce the disparate characters and their mysterious origins as the story glides back and forth through time and place.
You’ll meet Victor Hugo, whose wartime head injury stripped him of identity, earning him the moniker when one of famous author’s books was found in his pocket when he was rescued in France. Martin, adopted as a child in Paris, knows little about his background. John and Harriet are newlyweds smiling for the camera at Coney Island just before John heads off to France for service as a wartime pilot. Years later John and Harriet’s blind granddaughter, Amelia, defies logic as a curator for a museum on Long Island. Danny is a successful Los Angeles film producer who lived as a child next door to Victor Hugo in Manchester, England. Even a disfigured German soldier figures into the narrative in a most unconventional way. Most charming is Sebastien, a young boy in love with the possibility of love and guarding a secret found in the dense woods surrounding his family farm in France. Van Booy weaves all of these stories together with luminous prose, drawing them into a net interconnected by humanity and translucent with wonder.
Bio of Simon Van Booy from his website: Simon Van Booy was born in Great Britain and grew up in rural Wales. He is the author ofThe Secret Lives of People in Love, Love Begins in Winter (winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award) and the novel, Everything Beautiful Began After. His latest novel is The Illusion of Separateness.
He is the editor of three philosophy books, titled Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter. His essays have appeared in the New York Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian, and ELLE Men, (China), where he has a monthly column. He has also written for the stage, National Public Radio, and the BBC.
Simon teaches part-time at SVA in Manhattan, and is involved in the Rutgers Early College Humanities Program for young adults living in under-served communities. In 2013, he founded Writers for Children, an organization which helps young people build confidence in their talent, through annual writing awards.
He was a finalist for the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise, and his work has been translated into more than fifteen languages.
He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
Follow Simon Van Booy on Twitter: @SimonVanBooy