Kevin Brockmeier - The Illumination (3 stars)

The Illumination

Kevin Brockmeier's allegorical tale is an enlightening experience

Shining a light on the wounds we bear as human beings, The Illumination is an intriguing third novel from Little Rock, Arkansas writer Kevin Brockmeier. Shot through with chilling and fantastical nuances, this enlightened rumination by Brockmeier (crowned one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2007) focuses on our relationships with illness, pain, mortality and each other.

Set against the backdrop of a global supernatural phenomenon wherein light radiates from every ailment and injury – from the dim-lit sliver of a hang-nail to the glaring sunburst of terminal cancer – this tale spans several protagonists including a missionary, bullied child and homeless bookseller.

Each of these well-honed character studies is dove-tailed into a poetic conclusion, with a journal of love-notes acting as the baton which unifies and spotlights their individual lives. Brockmeier’s third-person narratives are scattered with intimate proclamations from the ever-present book of love, which always come as a welcome relief. These gentle notes instil a sense of humour and hope in a world that is full of darkness even when it is bathed in light.

Published by Jonathan Cape.

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