All That Man Is: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 (Hardback)David Szalay (author)
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Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016
‘The day is windless.
It’s not a joke
Life is not a joke.’
What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a man here and now, in this place, in this time?Szalay’s fourth novel offers a glimpse into the nine men’s lives. Men from across Europe, from different backgrounds; men like Gábor, staring out from a taxi window at a glossy London light heading into the city in search of money and Bérnard, stuck in a seedy hotel bar in Cyprus. Alien worlds and disparate lives collide as Szalay reveals a common struggle, a drive to perpetually move forward, to be successful and to find meaning amidst the chaos.
As the stories wind from the lives of feckless students and desperate emigres to an ambitious journalist and retired civil servant, Szalay gives a sense of whole lives lived out through snapshot glimpses. It amounts to a powerful and intimate portrait of male identity in the modern world and a biting critique of fractured society.
Szalay has undoubtedly written what will become an iconic testimony of post-Brexit European identity. Shining a light on how modern masculinity is moulded, tested and constrained by issues of nationalism and fundamental economic and political transition.
Nine men, nine very different stories, one extraordinary novel.
‘…these nine stories about very different men are replete with richly observed humanity, caught on the page as if in the midst of lives that extend backwards and forwards beyond the time we spend with them.’ The Guardian
David Szalay was born in Canada but moved to the UK shortly after. He was named one of The Telegraph’s top 20 authors under 40 in 2010. All That a Man Is is his fourth novel.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 543 g
Dimensions: 204 x 144 x 39 mm
David Szalay pushed at the fault lines between the novel and short story form in All That Man Is linked tales of European masculinity in crisis, whose effect is monumentally bleak, but which contain some of the best prose to be found in English this year. -- Justine Jordan * Guardian Books of the Year *
Szalay's writing is exact and true and always subtly intelligent; this book is bracing and thrilling and chilling. -- Tessa Hadley
It's a rare and wonderous event when a novel changes the way you look at the world around you; and this was the case with [All That Man Is]... A worthy winner of the Gordon Burn Prize this year. Gordon Burn would have loved it. Say no more. -- William Boyd * New Statesman, Book of the Year *
There is everything to relish about this intelligent, moving, thoroughly European search for the meaning of life ... It's hard to imagine reading a better book this year. -- Melissa Katsoulis * Times *
This feels like a great novel driven by its overarching theme: what is my life, here and now, all about? ... Rarely has it been so brilliantly and chillingly spelled out. -- John Harding * Daily Mail *
Trains a high-powered microscope on modern life... Szalay might have found in All that Man Is the perfect vehicle for his particular talent... It brings a sensory richness to the bleak and the drab... A showcase for Szalays virtuosic range... Each character is in crisis...yet Szalay grants each a lyrical moment of sensory immersion in the world. It is the resonance of these moments of fleeting transcendence that form the structure of this strange and lucid novel. -- Duncan White * Daily Telegraph *
All That Man Is is a triumph... By the fourth chapter the book as a whole has become gripping... Szalay has harnessed the natural energy of time, and the result is a 100-megawatt novel: intelligent, intricate, so very well made. The form perfectly fitting the content. When I reached the end, I turned straight back to the start to begin again. -- Claire Lowdon * Sunday Times *
[Szalay is] capable of conjuring tenderness from any situation... Szalay keeps the writing so judgment-free and is so honest about the unpredictability of desire... [Readers] will find a great deal to enjoy in these pages, and further evidence that Szalay...is one of the best fortysomething writers we have. -- William Skidelsky * Observer *
Szalay exposes the vulnerability that belies young men's sexual bravado... Szalay takes us inside distinctive worlds. -- Max Liu * Independent *
Szalay's writing is always sensitive, often funny and brilliantly observed... This is a very poignant piece of writing... All That Man Is does have the feel of a novel: in its evenness of tone, its thematic coherence, its driving sense of purpose... This is a quietly dazzling book by a writer who thoroughly deserves his growing reputation. -- Toby Lichtig * Literary Review *
He is one of those rare writers with skill in all the disciplines that first-rate fiction requires. The most immediate pleasure is his literary intelligence... Szalay's writing is virtuosic... These are the best short stories I've read for ages. -- Edward Docx * Guardian *
Here is a newish, youngish...contemporary British novelist worth catching up on and following... Luxuriant and Hobbesian... Szalay is an offended satirist with a remarkable verbal imagination... Szalay's prose with its ruthlessly banal dialogue, arm-twisting present tense, shard-like fragments...irresistibly brilliant epithet or startlingly quotable phrase, lets nothing go to waste. -- Michael Hofmann * London Review of Books *
He exposes with clear-sighted precision the multiple and (largely) disastrous failings of his characters... Szalay is too sharp by far to overstate the inevitable impact of his fellow man's actions... He exposes the problem in such style and with such rigour. -- Gary Kaill * Skinny *
He writes clean, unshowy sentences that move easily between the diction of casual speech and a more distanced tone. And he's able to hold a reader even when there isn't much going on, relying on assured storytelling rather than busy plotting. All this means that the new book goes down smoothly. It's also a bit of a tour de force when it comes to social and geographical reach... It's part of Szalay's appeal that he's more interested in getting at the texture of experience than he is in stuffing it into elegant packaging. -- Christopher Tayler * Financial Times *
He goes to town on nine specimens of the male gender, only surfacing to spit out the bones... The predicaments of the various tormented men come together to produce a rich exploration of male vulnerability... With All That Man Is, Szalay] he emerges as a writer with a voice unlike any other. -- Jude Cook * Spectator *
Szalay's audacious new novel... A superb meditation on ageing. * Telegraph *
The book is compelling, both for its fine-grained rendering of what one character calls "the texture of existence" and for its intricate patterning of events... His writing pulls you completely into their world. This is a book that I was impatient to return to and regretted finishing -- Chris Power * New Statesman *
A 100-megawatt book. * Sunday Times *
[A] boldly sad-funny and clear-eyed new novel. -- Andrew Motion * Guardian *
Szalay's handling of this material is sensitive, generous and often accomplished. He is adept at evoking the metaphysical stirrings that accompany shifts in light, time, weather... He is capable of sharp, fresh and affecting perceptions... [All That Man Is] offers enriching moments of immersion in the texture of existence. -- Matthew Adams * Irish Times *
A wonderfully pan-European collection of stories... All are bleakly funny and brilliantly drawn. -- Markie Robson-Soctt * Tablet *
An impressive investigation of masculinity and - with excellent timing - Europe. -- Justine Jordan * Guardian *
Szalay is on the cusp of widespread recognition and acclaim, but it could take the Booker to really tip him in. Szalay's win would also be a symbolic victory for that generation of writers that seemed to usher in the new millennium by their will and words alone. To put it bluntly, this is the sort of coup that could change the guard of the British literary establishment. * Culture Trip *
[A] wryly funny work. * Wall Street Journal (Europe) *
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All That Man is is more of a collection of short stories than a novel however Szalays successfully links these short stories together by the theme of what it is to be a man.
It depicts the stories of nine men set in... More
“An extraordinary work of realism.”
It's almost odd that this really does feel like a novel despite the fact that its nine 'chapters' are technically unconnected short stories (with the exception of the first and last, which feature... More
“Short stories set around EUROPE”
In nine short stories he introduces us to nine different men, some young, some old, all highly flawed and all seemingly at a low point or key moment in their lives. The narrative is often grammatically terse and the... More
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