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The Disapparation of James: A Novel

By Anne Ursu

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ISBN 10: 0786886633
288 pages

The Woodrow family is at the circus to celebrate Greta’s seventh birthday. When a clown asks for a volunteer from the audience, the parents are shocked when James, their extremely shy five-year-old, raises his hand. James thrives in the spotlight, and as the clown leads him through the routine, the parents glow with pride as the audience cheers for their son. The cheers turn into thundering applause as the act culminates in spectacular fashion, with James vanishing before their very eyes. The trouble is that James really does vanish — poof — into thin air.

As the police and media descend on the Woodrows, they feel that the laws of the universe have shattered. How can you solve a puzzle with no logic? As young Greta sets out to discover what really happened to her brother, each family member grapples with the joys and perils of loving, the persistence of loss, and the magic of everyday life.


“Ursu gently teases out the tale of a close-knit family whose youngest child, James, vanishes into thin air — literally. . . . Ursu’s story is sweetly done, her own compelling magic trick.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“Like Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, The Disapparation of James celebrates the glory of ordinary life in the midst of trauma.”  —Newsday

“[A] wry, haunting meditation on love, loss, and family ties.”  —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Ursu’s compelling novel blends surrealism with a keen understanding of the human heart to illuminate how a family deals with a loss for which there is no logical explanation.” —The Oregonian

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Buy the Book

The Disapparation of James: A Novel