Everything Beautiful Began After
August 2011 Indie Next List
— Kat Bailey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
View the List
FromSimon Van Booy, the award-winning author of LoveBegins in Winter and The Secret Lives of People in Love, comesa debut novel of longing and discovery amidst the ruins of Athens. Withechoes of Nicole Krauss’s The History of Love and CharlesBaxter’s The Feast of Love, Van Booy’sresonant tale of threeisolated, disaffected adults discovering one another in Greece is thecompelling product of an inquisitive, visionary talent. In the words of RobertOlen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a StrangeMountain, “Simon Van Booy knows a great deal about the complex longings of thehuman heart.”
Praise For Everything Beautiful Began After: A Novel…
— Wall Street Journal
“His prose is music, and his characters are warmhearted, gentle, bemused, philosophical beings….It’s as if Shakespeare’s Sonnet No. 30 has unfolded into a full-blown novel.”
— Austin Ratner, The East Hampton Star
“Van Booy’s writing rings with the proverbial pithiness of Oscar Wilde, the elegance of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the clarity of Graham Greene and the wit of Evelyn Waugh, conjuring a strong voice full of poetic, timeless grace of which much of the contemporary literary scene is starved.”
— San Francisco Examiner
“Van Booy’s writing seduces from the first page….He is a hugely gifted writer. More vitally, he has something to say.”
— Portland Press Herald
“There is...an integrity to [Van Booy’s] vision and a haunting element in his portrait of friendship and, ultimately, resolution.”
— Daily Mail (London)
“[T]he exquisite prose and heartbreaking (but never hopeless) emotional honesty make it a worthy read.”
— Daily Candy
“Vivid and meticulous...the floweriness of his prose is skillfully balanced by his short, precise sentences. Intriguing.”
— Metro (London)
“Atmospheric and anchored in its place. A book that is timeless but not rootless. Everything Beautiful Began After is highly sophisticated and absolutely sincere.”
— Irish Times
“How lovely to encounter a grownup romantic in Simon Van Booy….[He] is a lovely writer, and Everything Beautiful Began After is a kind book.”
— Open Letters Monthly
“Beautifully written, touchingly told, Van Booy radiates pain, fears, love and freedom on every page of this book.”
“A tender, earnest first novel....Van Booy wisely resists romanticizing torment, instead suggesting that grief -- tied as it is to fate and faith -- can give awy to promise.”
— Publishers Weekly
“If F. Scott Fitzgerald and Marguerite Duras had had a son, he would be Simon Van Booy; this is a truly special writer who does things with abstract language that is so evocative and original your breath literally catches in your chest. This is a novel you simply must read!”
— Andre Dubus III, New York Times bestselling author of Townie
“Already a new-generation master of the short story, Simon Van Booy has now emerged as a newly minted master of the novel as well….Van Booy is a writer whose work I will forever eagerly read.”
— Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain
“Everything Beautiful Began After both creates and satisfies a feeling of wanderlust. Van Booy’s confident prose carries the reader over oceans and back again, into archaeological digs and airport hotels, and the romance at the center of the book stays vivid long after the story is through.”
— Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married
Harper Perennial, 9780061661488, 416pp.
Publication Date: July 5, 2011
About the Author
Simon Van Booy is the author of two novels and two collections of short stories, including The Secret Lives of People in Love and Love Begins in Winter, which won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. He is the editor of three philosophy books and has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been translated into fourteen languages. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
Which of the three storylines resonated with you the most? Why?
Would you rather have Nico, Philippe or Chantal as your French tutor? Why?
Josie finds it difficult to reveal anything about her illicit relationship. Why does Josie keep lying – even to Nico, whom she will know for less than a day? What allows her to finally open up to him?
Riley realizes that she doesn’t love her husband anymore, and she’s definitely not in love with Philippe. However, she does love her mother, and “knows what she has to do. Love doesn’t just sit around watching. Love jumps on a plane and shows up” (p 149). In what ways have the people you love shown up for you? Have you shown up for the people you love?
Does Jeremy consider himself and his wife to be a happy couple? How does his unconsummated attraction to Chantal change his feelings for his wife?
Nico’s poetry collection deals with the idea of multiple truths, multiple versions of the same events. How else is this idea developed in the novel?
What do each of the students discover about themselves during their encounters with their tutors? What do the tutors discover? How are they each transformed?
Paris feels like a character in the novel. How do Josie, Riley, and Jeremy’s experiences of Paris differ? What does Paris end up meaning to each of them?
What do you think is it about Paris that makes people fall in love (or in lust)?