The Illumination

by Kevin Brockmeier
Release date: 2011
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasy, mainstream

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.

(updated 2012-12-06)

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