The Illusion of Separateness (Paperback)

By Simon Van Booy

Harper Perennial, 9780062248459, 211pp.

Publication Date: July 29, 2014

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
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Description

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.



Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com

  1. Define the phrase "illusion of separateness." The author uses it three times—in the epitaph, as the name of a photo exhibit curated by one of the book's characters, and as the book's title. How do all three tie together? What is the author's message to the reader about "separateness"? Is it a part of the human condition that we feel isolated and alone? Describe the ways in which all the characters in the novel are connected.generic viagra price canada
  2. In your group, have each member play the game "six degrees of separation." What, if any, links do you share that you had not realized—or consciously recognized—before?generic viagra price canada
  3. Think about the various characters. How did their choices unite the circle of their connection? Focus on one. What might he or she have done that would have broken the link?generic viagra price canada
  4. Does it matter that at the end of the novel, the various characters do not recognize their importance to each other? Is it enough that you, the reader, understand the link between them? How do such invisible links shape our lives?generic viagra price canada
  5. At the beginning of the novel, after Martin discovers the truth of his existence, the author writes, "He had been reborn into the nightmare of truth. The history of others had been his all along." What is the author conveying with these words?generic viagra price canada
  6. Amelia describes being blind. "Being blind is not like you would imagine. It's not like closing your eyes and trying to see. I don't feel as though I'm lacking. I see people by what they say to others, by how they move and how they breathe." Think about this. Do you think that while sight affords us much, it also closes us off to other aspects of life, and makes us "blind" in another kind of way? Do you "see" with all of your senses? How can doing so change your perception?generic viagra price canada
  7. Amelia tells us that she believes, "people would be happier if they had admitted things more often. In a sense we are all prisoners of some memory, or fear, or disappointment—we are all defined by something we can't change." Do you agree with her? How are each of the characters defined by something they cannot change? How do they adapt to this defining element? What about your own life? Is their something that you cannot change that would like to? How do you cope with this?generic viagra price canada
  8. Discuss the origin of Mr. Hugo's name. Is this an apt moniker for him? Is he reminiscent of a character from a Hugo novel?generic viagra price canada
  9. Analyze the structure of the novel. Why do you think the author chose this structure versus straight linear narrative? Would the story have the same emotional impact if it had been told from one or two character's points of view alone? What makes this a novel rather than a collection of short stories?generic viagra price canada
  10. What was your emotional reaction to the book? Did you relate to one character more than another? What did you take away from reading The Illusion of Separateness?generic viagra price canada
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