Winner of the 2012 PEN Ackerley Prize
Duncan Fallowell sets out to odd corners of the world in pursuit of some extraordinary and improbable characters who were in most cases momentarily famous—or infamous—and then simply disappeared. The first to disappear is the author himself—to a ghostly hotel on a Mediterranean island. His subjects, though unmet or hardly met, live for the reader with remarkable vividness, such as the German artist who bought a large island in the Hebrides and vanished immediately afterward, to the astonishment of its inhabitants. Fallowell tracks down the recluse who inspired Evelyn Waugh's creation Sebastian Flyte, the legendary love object of Waugh's novel Brideshead Revisited, who wants both to forget the past and to cling to it. He even pursues the ultimate disappearance—the death of Princess Diana—and the miasma of shock, wonder, and grief that followed, writing "Mystification is absolutely essential to our feeling of being alive."
In these highly original adventures, How to Disappear winds through the eerie abyss that can open up between someone—or something—being both real and phantom.