I’m delighted to welcome you today to my stop on the blog tour for mesmerising novel The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy. Thank you to Corinna Bolino for the invitation and to Penguin UK for my copy of this book.
About the book:
‘The man who had nearly run me over had touched my hair, as if he were touching a statue or something without a heartbeat…’
In 1988 Saul Adler (a narcissistic, young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then break up, but not before she has photographed Saul crossing the same Abbey Road.
Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the Wall comes down. There he will encounter – significantly – both his assigned translator and his translator’s sister, who swears she has seen a jaguar prowling the city. He will fall in love and brood upon his difficult, authoritarian father. And he will befriend a hippy, Rainer, who may or may not be a Stasi agent, but will certainly return to haunt him in middle age.
Slipping slyly between time zones and leaving a spiralling trail, Deborah Levy’s electrifying The Man Who Saw Everythingexamines what we see and what we fail to see, the grave crime of carelessness, the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.
About the author:
Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. Her 2011 novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize. Hot Milk, her sixth novel, was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, in 2016. Deborah is also the author of a collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), which was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC.
Where do I even start with The Man Who Saw Everything, the mesmerising new novel by acclaimed author Deborah Levy. This is a book unlike any other I’ve ever read before and as far as I am concerned Deborah Levy is a complete and utter genius.
The book begins in 1988 when Saul Adler, a narcissistic young historian and our very unreliable narrator, is hit by a car on the infamous Abbey Road zebra crossing. He is apparently fine, he gets up, has a rather strange encounter with the driver of the vehicle that hit him, then goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer. She photographs Saul crossing Abbey Road and then, because Jennifer can’t see a future for them, they break up. This day is a significant turning point in Saul’s life and becomes even more so when we move forward from 1988 to 2016.
Saul leaves to study in communist East Berlin, two months before the wall comes down. It is at this point that the sheer genius of the author’s writing comes into play. The plot doesn’t stay linear and we follow Saul through time in a distinctly flexible and untrustworthy way. I don’t want to give away too much of what happens as I feel that everything you need to know is already in the blurb.
I could ramble on for paragraphs about memory and how it’s possible to reconstruct it to suit your own purposes. Or I could wax lyrical about the sheer genius and beauty of Levy’s writing, but I won’t do that. This is a book you need to read and experience for yourself. You need to drink it all in, as the fragmented pieces of the story slowly begin to come together as we move forward to 2016. Savour every beautifully written, cleverly constructed word of this mesmerising and simply unforgettable novel.
What can I say? I loved this book so much, but don’t feel any review I write could ever do it justice. A fairly short novel by today’s standards, but one that packs an almighty punch all the same. Highly recommended.
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy is available to buy now: Amazon UK