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A blackly comic novel from the Booker Prize-nominated author that journeys from London's Soho underworld to the battlegrounds of North Africa following the exploits of a brilliant painter during World War IIToward the end of the World War II, young British artist Kenneth Brill is arrested for painting landscapes near Heathrow Village; the authorities suspect his paintings contain coded information about the new military airfield that is being built. Brill protests that he is merely recording a landscape that will soon disappear. Under interrogation a more complicated picture emerges as Brill tells the story of his life—of growing up among the market gardens of The Heath and of his life on the London art scene of the 1930s. But a darker picture also comes to light, of dealings with the prostitutes and pimps of the Soho underworld, of a break-in at a royal residence, and of connections with well-known fascist sympathizers at home and abroad.
So who is the real Kenneth Brill? The hero of El Alamein who, as a camouflage officer, helped pull off one of the greatest acts of military deception in the history of warfare, or the lover of Italian futurist painter and fascist sympathizer Arturo Somarco? Why was he expelled from the Slade School of Fine Art? And what was he doing at Hillmead, the rural community run by Rufus Quayle, a friend of Hitler himself?
Vanishing sees the world through the eyes of one of the forgotten geniuses of modern art, a man whose artistic vision is so piercing he has trouble seeing what is right in front of him.