Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016
An ingenious book from the exceptional Granta Best Young British Novelist
Nine men: each of them at a different stage of life, away from home, and striving - in the suburbs of Prague, in a cheap Cypriot hotel - to understand just what it means to be alive here and now.
Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are - ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing.
©2016 David Szalay (P)2016 W.F. Howes Ltd
"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)
"There is everything to relish about this intelligent, moving, thoroughly European search for the meaning of life.... It's hard to imagine listening a better audiobook this year." (Melissa Katsoulis, The Times)
There are no reviews for this title yet.
"Woeful men on the edge of a nervous breakdown"
Makes you realise how few books you know where guys are relentlessly flawed and frail. Each story is like stepping into a nightmare in motion. With each main character imprisoned.
"Only half what man is"
This is a mapping out of the stages of life, illustrated by 9 (?) parts focusing on different men of different ages. We start off with the young and careless, travelling and sexually motivated men and end up with the lonely and ill oll man who spends his time in the hospital.
I enjoyed many of the stories, found them well written and not to be faulted. Much is shrewdly observed, well put and, for this middle-aged man, fascinating as reflection and mirror.
Yet, my biggest problem with this is that it seems to focus only on the negative side. These are all anti-heroes, devoid of morals, meaning in their life and without purpose. For me it's missing some of the better parts that man is. The men here only seem happy when achieving sexual conquests or business success - even if this is hurting others.
In that the novel paints a bad picture of men and a bleak, depressing outlook, despite some fabulous writing and characterisation. It's easy to point out flaws but much harder to show how to be a better man. One or two more inspiring stories might have made a difference for me.
Having said all that, the novel definitely engaged me throughout and stayed with me for days after.
"Good, with reservations"
The narratives are linked tenuously by theme, not by plot, and the book is essentially a compilation of individual short stories. The author writes exceptionally well, lacking pretension and with clarity, although little actually happens for the duration of the book. You get the impression that, for whatever reason, the author has presented us with some of the less interesting events of the characters' lives and whilst this approach goes some way to illustrating the overarching motif, it left me feeling cheated after each transition.
I've often thought it's a pity the review ratings don't separate narrative and literary ability, never more so than for this particular book.
Still, I did enjoy listening to such an accomplished presentation and the impressive narration together with the author's linguistic skills made it a four star for me.
"Compelling and sad"
A most excellent listen that I am.profpundly glad I listened to and will listen to again. Sad, disturbing insightful and original look at the changing face of manhood through the various stages of life. I am moved by it.
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