The Disappearance by Efrem Sigel's is a divergent story within a story. Joshua and Nathalie come home from a night out to discover their 14-year old son Daniel is not at home. Soon they realize he is missing and they are frantic with desperation, not knowing what to do. He has vanished without any clues. They must face the hours, days, weeks -- and perhaps more — of tortuous tension while they wait for any positive word about him.
What happens to a marriage when something so gut wrenching occurs? How does a couple cope with such dismal despair? As the weeks go by Nathalie and Joshua cope differently, isolating and insulating their feelings. No longer able to support each other, they aren't even aware of one another as they are hidden behind a victim's veil. Sigel uses densely polished poetic lyrical verse. His sensitive style is beautiful, and through his artistry and details you are able to empathize with Nathalie and Joshua as they face an uncertain future. The Disappearance is a rhythmic roller-coaster of emotions.
I recently interviewed Efrem Sigel about his book The Disappearance.
Wisteria: The disappearance of a child is such a tough subject. Were you afraid it would scare readers away from the book?
Efrem: The book begins with the disappearance of 14-year old Daniel Sandler, but my hope was always that The Disappearance would be more than just another “child disappears, who did it?” mystery. The mystery is there, of course, but it’s also a family drama, the story of a marriage, a story about how ordinary people can either surmount, or be defeated by, extraordinary and tragic events. If it works, it’s because in the end it’s more a love story on multiple levels than a tragedy.
The way you portray the parents, Joshua and Nathalie, seems to make their emotions so palpable to readers. How did you do this?
I knew that I needed fully fleshed-out and believable characters to make the novel work. Joshua and Nathalie are such different people, one impulsive and action-oriented, the other cerebral and withdrawn, that it was inevitable they would react to this calamity in very different ways. Out of these differences, and the spiraling tension caused by the mystery, I hoped to develop a momentum that would drive the story while enhancing the reader’s understanding of and identification with the characters.