The Man Who Saw Everything

The Man Who Saw Everything

Book - 2019
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Longlisted for the Booker Prize
A New York Times Editor's Choice

Named a Best Book of the Year By:
The New York Times Book Review (Notable Books of the Year) * The New York Public Library * The Washington Post * * The New York Times Critics' (Parul Seghal's Top Books of the Year) * St. Louis Post Dispatch * Apple * A Publisher's Weekly 's Top Ten Books of the Year
An electrifying novel about beauty, envy, and carelessness from Deborah Levy, author of the Booker Prize finalists Hot Milk and Swimming Home.

It is 1988 and Saul Adler, a narcissistic young historian, has been invited to Communist East Berlin to do research; in exchange, he must publish a favorable essay about the German Democratic Republic. As a gift for his translator's sister, a Beatles fanatic who will be his host, Saul's girlfriend will shoot a photograph of him standing in the crosswalk on Abbey Road, an homage to the famous album cover. As he waits for her to arrive, he is grazed by an oncoming car, which changes the trajectory of his life.

The Man Who Saw Everything is about the difficulty of seeing ourselves and others clearly. It greets the specters that come back to haunt old and new love, previous and current incarnations of Europe, conscious and unconscious transgressions, and real and imagined betrayals, while investigating the cyclic nature of history and its reinvention by people in power. Here, Levy traverses the vast reaches of the human imagination while artfully blurring sexual and political binaries--feminine and masculine, East and West, past and present--to reveal the full spectrum of our world.

Publisher: New York ; London ; Oxford ; New Helhi ; Sydney : Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019
ISBN: 9781632869845
Branch Call Number: Levy, D
Characteristics: 199 pages ; 22 cm


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Dec 19, 2020

An unreliable narrator and dislikable main character. Levy's insights are not really that profound. I did not finish the book and wonder how it made the Booker long list.

Mar 01, 2020

I was compelled to gulp down the prose, mellow sweet, tangy bitter at the time. But when the story came out whole, what's lingered taste bland. I doubt if individuals' traumatic experience needs such an elaborately psychic perception and chaotic drama to reveal the past and impact the future.
When subjective manipulation (e.g. allusion, interwoven time and space) is excessive and convoluted, the objective (e.g. totalitarian, queerness) power effect is diverted and weakened.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jan 15, 2020

The Man Who Saw Everything is one of those books that only supplies more questions the deeper one looks. For readers who find thrill in trying to piece everything together, this book is well worth the experience. It is clever and mysterious. It's a stylish novel, even if many of its allusions may be elusive. It's every part entertaining as it is intelligent. Perhaps the puzzle could've been a little easier to solve—personally, I like to feel like I have a solution, even if that answer is wrong—but there was pleasure and enjoyment in trying to fit the pieces together.

Dec 25, 2019

1988 Communist Berlin, Saul Adler (genderqueer), Beatles Abbey Road, and an accident that bridges two time periods mark this unusual novel as interesting, head scratching, and immersive.

Sep 19, 2019

booker 2019 longlist


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