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.
This gripping, 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.
If there is anything not to love in this novel, it is the sense that events are too connected, that Van Booy wraps up the stories with too neat a bow. The message, “we are all one and everything is connected,” is perhaps pushed a bit too hard. But this is by no means a fatal flaw. The book shines in its language. The characters are tenderly, fully, and lovingly rendered, and their stories keep the reader falling in love. (Reviewed by Naomi Benaron).
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.
Starred Review. 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.
They flew by night, predominantly during the "moon period," when there was sufficient moonlight to navigate by. Their airplanes were painted black to avoid detection, and they flew at dangerously low altitudes, often as low as 2,000 ft. The first flights were with modified B-24D Liberators; later, C-47s, A-26s, and British Mosquitos were added to the arsenal. This was Operation Carpetbagger, a little known, top-secret mission of WW II conceived of and directed by the United States Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA.
Operation Carpetbagger began in support of top-secret Royal Air Force (RAF) missions flown out of a small British airbase in Tempsford, Bedforshire. Their purpose was to airdrop supplies and agents to resistance groups operating in German-held territories. Operation Carpetbagger became a reality in November 1943, when the 22nd Anti-Submarine Squadron was disbanded and reassigned first to the Tempsford air base and later to Harrington Field in Northamptonshire. Anti-submarine personnel were chosen because they were the most experienced at low-altitude...
Unfolding against the deeply evocative background of Sri Lanka's landscape and ancient civilization, Anil's Ghost is a literary spellbinder.
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