The Separation, by Christopher Priest

I finished reading this last week, and much like the other books I’ve read of Priest’s, it left me with a sort of surreal feeling.

The story is about identical twin brothers and their lives during WW2. As with his other books, Priest paints a very realistic world, full of details that suck you into a sense of normalcy and predictability, before he starts throwing weird stuff at you. This gives the effect of making even slightly off things, that might in other contexts not have much impact, seem very powerful and disturbing.

The book opens with one of the twins awaking in a hospital after his plane was shot down. He tries to recollect what happened, and we get a series of flashbacks with insights into his life. Later, we hear the stories from other angles and are left wondering what is true and real.

The end of the book, much like the others of his I’ve read, was very powerful. If I were to describe it here it would sound so cliche as to make you roll your eyes, but the build up to it is what made it work so well.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, I’d say this is a must. If you are a fan of surreal, slow burning, weird fiction that leaves you with that feeling that you get when you swear you saw someone who isn’t there, or when you think you had a conversation with someone but they have no idea what you’re talking about–like a reverse deja vu… I’d recommend this as well.

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