Simon Van Booy is the author of The Secret Lives of People in Love, Love Begins in Winter (winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award), Everything Beautiful Began After, and The Illusion of Separateness (a national bestseller). Van Booy’s fiction has been translated into more than sixteen languages, and has been optioned for motion pictures.
With quiet emotional power, Van Booy’s forthcoming book Father’s Day (Harper), is the touching story of a girl named Harvey and the reluctant, ne’er-do-well man who raises her. When a tragic car accident orphans the young Harvey, a thoughtful social worker determines to place her in the home of her only living family—an uncle who is an ex-con and black sheep of the family. Though hesitant at first, through spending time with Harvey he realizes that her only chance is to be in his care, and that, despite everything he feels he knows about himself, his temperament, and his limitations, he must step forward as her legal guardian. Father’s Day weaves together the story of Harvey’s childhood seamlessly with the dramatic story of their reunion today. Now a young woman living in Paris, she plans a surprise for her uncle when he comes to visit—a surprise that may not be what either of them thinks, and that causes them both to rethink the meaning of their relationship. In a novel that is rich with emotional nuance and yet deeply suspenseful, Van Booy captures the relationship between fathers and daughters, the prevailing force of loss, and the power of forgiveness. His most commercial and accessible work to date, Father’s Day offers an intimate look at the meaning of family and our inextinguishable need for others.
His latest book, The Illusion of Separateness (Harper), Van Booy tells a harrowing and enchanting story of how one man’s act of mercy in the fields of France during World War II change the lives of others, through time and place. The varied characters discover at 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 a chain we cannot see. This gripping, emotional novel (inspired by true events) tells the story 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 under each of them, so that one by one, through seemingly random acts of selflessness, a veil is lifted to reveal the vital parts they have placed in each other’s lives and the illusion of their separateness.
Van Booy is the editor of three philosophy books, Why We Fight, Why We Need Love, and Why Our Decisions Don’t Matter. He has written for the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, and Elle Men (China)—where he writes the monthly ‘New Yorker’ column. He has written for the Stage, National Public Radio, and the BBC. Van Booy teaches part-time at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, and frequently hosts creative writing seminars in places such as New York, London, Paris, Shanghai, and Beijing. In 2013 he founded Writers for Children, a project which helps young people build confidence in their literary abilities through annual monetary writing awards. As well, he has had experience speaking to audiences in various settings such as academic, corporate, libraries, and assisted living centers.
Currently, Van Booy resides in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.
Praise For Simon Van Booy:
"Simon Van Booy is a spellbinding speaker whose every word is made careful note of by his audience. His talks are delivered with wit and style, and proof of his star power can be found in the inevitable line that forms of those who want to speak to him afterward."
--Penny Wright, Director of Adult Programming, Rogers Memorial Library
"Simon Van Booy is as wonderful, funny, and lovely a speaker as he is a writer. His audience was mesmerized. Simon was one of the most memorable speakers we've ever seen at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference."
--Monte Schulz, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Praise For The Illusion of Separateness:
"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 way to promise."
"...A strong voice full of poetic, timeless grace."
--San Francisco Examiner
"A swift and engaging story..."
--Wall Street Journal
"A book that is timeless but not rootless... highly sophisticated and absolutely sincere."
"It's as if Shakespeare's Sonnet No. 30 has unfolded into a full blown novel...This book is art of that sort and that coliber; it binds up anguish in beauty."
--East Hampton Star
"...rarely do authors capture youthful innocence and the melancholy that accompanies its loss so well."
--Time Out New York
Praise For Everything Beautiful Began After:
"Its combination of staccato sentences and tidy symbolism transforms the finest passages into little haikus of prose."
"Incurable romantics will savor Simon Van Booy's tender Maupassant-like fables."
--New York Times
"His stories are full of the most exquisite insights"
--Patrick Cotter, Director of the Frank O'Connor Award
"Breathtaking..chillingly beautiful, like postcards from Eden..Van Booy's stories are somehow like paintings the characters walk out of, and keep walking."
--Los Angeles Times
"Van Booy is a master of the atmospheric scene written in lyrical prose."
--The Short Review
"A first-rate storyteller."
"He shows an uncanny ability to create intense moods and emotions within the space of a few poetic paragraphs."
Praise for Father's Day:
“The moving account of a unique relationship between a parent and child, thrust together under the worst of circumstances. With fine, nuanced prose and much tenderness, Booy guides this unlikely father-daughter pair into a beautiful maturity, showing us with great heart what it really means to be a family.”
--Elizabeth Crane, author of The History of Great Things