The Presence of Absence

Simon Van Booy

Manuscript in English Literary Fiction

As a writer lies dying, he has one last story to tell: a tale of faith and devotion, a meditation on what lies beyond this life, and a prayer of gratitude that may lead to rebirth. This is Simon Van Booy at his visionary best.

“Language is a map leading to a place not on the map,” announces a young writer lying in a hospital bed at the beginning of The Presence of Absence. As he contemplates his impending physical disappearance and the impact on his beloved wife, he realizes, “Life doesn’t start when you’re born . . . it begins when you commit yourself to the eventual devastating loss that results from connecting to another person.”

Infused with poetic clarity and graced with humor, Simon Van Booy’s innovative novella asks the reader to find beauty—even gratitude—in the cycle of birth and death. Stripped of artifice, The Presence of Absence is a meditation between the writer and the reader, an imaginative work that challenges the deceit of written words and explores our strongest emotions.

Simon Van Booy is not only a master storyteller but a writer whose fiction is rich with philosophical insights into things both mapped and undiscovered. The Presence of Absence parts the darkness to reveal what has been just out of sight all along.

Reviews

“Consistently insightful, symphonic in the music of its thought. A captivating fable that echoes in the mind long after the book is finished. The Presence of Absence is impossible to resist.” —Ilya Kaminsky

“This amazed me. It’s so deftly, delicately written, it seems as if a real breeze is blowing—this, in the context of serious, sad subject matter. It’s a perfect integration of form and content, though who would have imagined it this way except Simon Van Booy? Reading it made me think about the many things hidden in and from our lives that appear only when they do. It’s a moving, brilliant book.” —Ann Beattie