"It starts in a Los Angeles nursing home, where an older man carefully tends to his patients. But then it switches to England, where another older man helps out his Nigerian neighbor by taking care of her son while she’s at work. And then a blind young woman on Long Island, who helps vision impaired attendees appreciate art exhibits. These and other characters have bumped against each other in time, some directly, others through intermediaries with all their lives pivoting on a fateful incident on a World War II battlefield. And yes, it reminds me of one of my favorite books of the last several years, Frederick Reiken’s Day for Night, but as my fellow bookseller Stacie notes, with The Illusion of Separateness, you don’t need a map to keep track of everything. I can only second my fellow Sharon, another Boswellian and Van Booy fan, and swoon."— Daniel Goldin
"An act of mercy that takes place on a field in France during World War II is the nucleus of this book. All the other characters and events are connected in a gorgeous tapestry that is slowly and masterfully revealed to the reader. This novel is based on a true story and is a lovely illustration that separateness is indeed an illusion, and that we are all connected. Rilke said something along the line of 'Words can only point at emotions.' This is quite accurate as I read this most amazing of novels almost a month ago and have only lately been about to talk about it in full sentences. Seriously, I have rarely been so affected by a book in recent memory."— Sharon Nagel
Author Simon Van Booy has produced a beautifully written set of stories that appear distinct but eventually come together to show how connected people and events really are. I have read this book multiple times, and it is a joy every single time.— Anne K McMahon
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.
“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.”
“Masterful prose....From minimalistic sentences he wrings out maximum impact, stripping away artifice and elaboration in favor of stark, emotional clarity and honesty.”
“His writing is consciously poetic and at times aphoristic, and he deftly portrays his characters’ raw emotions.”
“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.”
“World War II flashbacks, random acts of kindness, and the amazing thing that happens when seemingly disparate story lines come full circle.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”