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Kentucky friend inspires multigenerational saga

Six degrees of separation is the idea that any two random people are six or fewer social connections away from one another. This theory plays heavily into award-winning author Simon Van Booy’s novel, Night Came With Many Stars. 

The book begins in 1933, weaving its way back and forth from past and present through multiple generations. As each character’s story unfolds, another puzzle piece clicks into place, revealing to the reader insights into the choices made and the ripple effect each had on the future, resulting in both tragedy and beauty. 

Addiction is such a central part of Van Booy’s story that it is almost a character in itself as he attacks head-on the effects of alcoholism, gambling and the damage inflicted not only on the abuser but on loved ones. Sensitive readers should be aware that some aspects of the story may be difficult to read, yet Booy’s inclusion of issues such as rape, abuse and abortion are central to the development and progression of the story. 

The author’s connection to Kentucky is not a lifelong one. Originally from Wales and Oxford, England, he came to Kentucky as a promising rugby player for Campbellsville University. While there, he met a friend, Samuel, with whom he has maintained contact for nearly 20 years. He says hearing stories of Samuel’s family on “porches, long drives, in fields, in locker rooms, and around dinner tables” was what inspired this latest work. 

When asked about the novel’s shifting timeline, Van Booy explains, “I wanted to show two experiences of growing up in America 50 years apart. At the start of each chapter for about three-quarters of the book, Samuel and his grandmother, Carol, are the same ages. For instance, while Samuel is focused on pizza and his favorite TV shows at 13 years old, his grandmother is being sold into marriage by her father. That’s the difference 50 short years makes in America.” 

Aside from writing, Van Booy enjoys an eclectic list of hobbies and interests, including opera and early music. He and his wife rescue mice that have been bred as snake food, raising them as pets. He is also an ultra-marathon runner and a volunteer EMT, something he says comes in handy if fellow runners find themselves in distress.

Night Came With Many Stars, (Godine, $25.95), is available online at www.godine.com or at major book retailers. 

Simon Van Booy has also authored four short story collections; four novels, one of which became a national bestseller; three philosophy books; and several children’s books. He has written for NPR, the BBC and several major news publications. Connect with Van Booy at www.simonvanbooy.com

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