The Illumination: A Novel

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What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?
 
From best-selling and award-winning author Kevin Brockmeier: a new novel of stunning artistry and imagination about the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.
 
At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination commences. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a private journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of a hospital patient and from there through the hands of five other suffering people, touching each of them uniquely.
 
I love the soft blue veins on your wrist. I love your lopsided smile. I love watching TV and shelling sunflower seeds with you.
 
The six recipients—a data analyst, a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor—inhabit an acutely observed, beautifully familiar yet particularly strange universe, as only Kevin Brockmeier could imagine it: a world in which human pain is expressed as illumination, so that one’s wounds glitter, fluoresce, and blaze with light. As we follow the journey of the book from stranger to stranger, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.
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About the author

Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the novels The View from the Seventh Layer, The Brief History of the Dead, The Truth About CeliaThings That Fall from the Sky, and two children's novels. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, McSweeney's, The Oxford American, The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories and Granta's Best of Young American Novelists, among other publications. He has taught at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas.
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3.5
17 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
Feb 1, 2011
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780307379580
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
Fiction / Magical Realism
Fiction / Psychological
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In the tradition of The Shape of Water, this “perfect novel” of a housewife who begins a passionate affair with a sea monster is “something of a miracle” (The New Yorker).

It all starts with the radio. Dorothy’s husband, Fred, has left for work, and she is at the kitchen sink washing the dishes, listening to classical music. Suddenly, the music fades out and a soft, close, dreamy voice says, “Don’t worry, Dorothy.”
 
A couple weeks later, there is a special interruption in regular programming. The announcer warns all listeners of an escaped sea monster. Giant, spotted, and froglike, the beast—who was captured six months earlier by a team of scientists—is said to possess incredible strength and to be considered extremely dangerous.
 
That afternoon, the seven-foot-tall lizard man walks through Dorothy’s kitchen door. She is frightened at first, but there is something attractive about the monster. The two begin a tender, clandestine affair, and no one, not even Dorothy’s husband or her best friend, seems to notice.
 
Selected by the British Book Marketing Council as one of the greatest American novels since World War II, Mrs. Caliban, much like Guillermo del Toro’s film The Shape of Water, uses an inter-species romance to explores issues of passion and loneliness, love and loss—and in its own wryly subversive way, it blends surrealism, satire, and a strong female perspective. A literary cult classic, it “skillfully combines fairy tale, science fiction, and ho-hum reality” (People).

“[An] ethereal, masterfully written book.” —Entertainment Weekly

 “If you consume only one piece of art about a woman sleeping with a sea monster this year, my advice is to make it Mrs. Caliban.” —Literary Hub
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