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Extended Audio Sample The Illumination, by Kevin Brockmeier Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (2,030 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Brockmeier Narrator: Graham Rowat Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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What if our pain was the most beautiful thing about us?
At 8:17 on a Friday night, the Illumination begins. Every wound begins to shine, every bruise to glow and shimmer. And in the aftermath of a fatal car accident, a journal of love notes, written by a husband to his wife, passes into the keeping of Carol Ann Page, and from there through the hands of five other people—a photojournalist, a schoolchild, a missionary, a writer, and a street vendor. As their stories unfold, we come to understand how intricately and brilliantly they are connected, in all their human injury and experience.

With the artistry and imagination that have become his trademark, Kevin Brockmeier reveals a world that only he could imagine, casting his gaze on the wounds we bear and the light that radiates from us all.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brockmeier’s consistently arresting observations have the throb of lived—rather than merely imagined—experience…In The Illumination it isn’t our agonies and discomforts that define us, but the selves we build in response to them.”


  • “Show[s] us the astonishment of life as it is really being lived.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Lush…At once dark and profound…[The Illumination] never fails to be deeply felt and precisely observed.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A beautiful novel…Brockmeier is a dazzling stylist.”

    Washington Post Book World

  • “This is a radiant, bewitching, and profoundly inquisitive novel of sorrow, perseverance, and wonderment.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • Selected for the February 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 Kansas City Star Top 100 Book
  • An 2011 NPR Best Book
  • A 2011 Seattle Times Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Mrsgaskell | 2/16/2014

    " I enjoyed The Brief History of the Dead very much although it did lag towards the end. So, I was intrigued by this new title by the same author. It's an interesting concept, that people's injuries and pain begin to glow with light and can be perceived by everyone. There are five or six separate stories of individuals whose only connection is that a diary of love notes passes through each of their hands at some point. I was expecting some overall connection or wrapping up, some message, but as the book went on it seemed less and less likely that it was heading anywhere and my reading became less focused. As another reviewer said, it became boring and confusing. The author has a way with words, and I never considered giving up on the book but ultimately it was a disappointment and perhaps in retrospect I should have quit reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Heather M | 2/12/2014

    " While beautifully written and beautifully imagined, I felt The Illumination lacked story and character development. It seemed a series of short stories around a central premise rather than a cohesive novel. I generally like novels that switch between the perspectives of multiple characters; however, the level of depth we are treated to in the characters lives in The Illumination never passes the surface level. Few of these characters change throughout their sections; I don't believe any change for the better. We are left with in the same sort of resolution-less apathy common in short stories. That coupled with forgettable characters who lack drive, heart, and resolution doesn't leave me with the kind of feeling I like to get from reading novels. I like to get to know characters better, live their lives through them. This is more a criticism of contemporary fiction than of Kevin Brockmeier in particular, but I don't care much to read the lives of damaged, sad individuals with nothing to lose and nothing to gain. We always have something to gain. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Jill | 2/5/2014

    " This had potential but failed to meet my expectations. I was hoping for a book of insight and it just did not cut the mustard for me. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Melissa Porter | 2/2/2014

    " One of the best books I've read in awhile, maybe ever. What if we could see a person's pain, radiating from the place it originates? How would we treat each other differently? And what does that say about pain and the lessons it teaches us? And the flip side: What does it mean to truly love? This book is driven by a central narrative that flows through a handful of perspectives in this post-illumination world and promises to enchant, enlighten, and trouble you. Please read it. "

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