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Drawing is a big element in the book: the main character, Cyril Andruchuk, sketches obsessively — ”manly“ things — pliers, hammers, razors, hacksaws, a welding mask. Lauren read a draft of Grant Buday’s manuscript and created a series of sketches for the cover, and we chose a drawing of a row of jam jars holding screws, nuts and nails, as left by Cyril’s father, above an easel with an in-progress portrait of Stalin. On top of Lauren’s drawing I layered scans of my pencil sketch lettering of the author’s name and the book title.
Lauren Simkin Berke
Vancouver, summer 1962. Cyril Andrachuk and Connie Chow are seventeen and in love.
Cyril is the only Canadian-born member of the Andrachuk family, his parents and older brother having survived Stalin’s systematic starving of the Ukraine. His brother’s brittle bones are not the only legacy of Stalin. Cyril’s famine-free childhood has built up a distance between him and the rest of the household.
His family’s past charges Cyril’s present with bitter overtones he barely understands and Cyril’s love of art is beyond his family’s comprehension; Cyril is destined to be a working man, not a working artist.
In this house built on the edge of a cemetery, where his mother reviews the burials over her morning tea, creativity and joy are suspect. Mourning the early death of his father, Cyril finds solace in lovingly drawing his father’s metalworking tools and in his happiness with Connie. But his family’s resentment sows the seeds of betrayal, and Cyril must find a way to live with his family’s past in order to find his future.
Art, love, and history furnish the setting in this tale. The Delusionist is a novel of longing, loss and rediscovered joy.