Toward 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 a new military airfield. 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: dealings with prostitutes and pimps of the Soho underworld, a break-in at a royal residence, and 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.
Gerard Woodward is the author of a number of novels, including Nourishment and an acclaimed trilogy comprising of August (shortlisted for the 2001 Whitbread First Novel Award), I'll Go to Bed at Noon (shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize) and A Curious Earth. He was born in London in 1961 and published several prize-winning collections of poetry before turning to fiction. His collection of poetry, We Were Pedestrians, was shortlisted for the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.