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The Man Who Saw Everything Summary and Reviews

The Man Who Saw Everything

by Deborah Levy

The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy X
The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy
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  • Published Oct 2019
    208 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

An electrifying novel about beauty, envy, and carelessness from Deborah Levy, author of the Booker Prize finalists Hot Milk and Swimming Home. Longlisted for the Booker Prize.

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"There's a lot of repetition and random details that seem deliberately placed to be clues. I'm sure there's a clever story in here somewhere, but apart from a few intriguing anachronisms (e.g. in 1988 a smartphone is just "A small, flat, rectangular object … lying in the road. … The object was speaking. There was definitely a voice inside it") there is not a lot of plot or character to latch onto. I suspect there will be many readers who, like me, won't be tempted to follow Saul Adler from London's Abbey Road, where he's hit by a car in the first paragraph, on to East Berlin." - Rebecca Foster

Other Reviews
"Levy's novel brilliantly explores the parallels between personal and political history, and prompts questions about how one sees oneself—and what others see." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Multiple versions of history collide—literally—in a superbly crafted, enigmatic new story from an author of note...Levy defies gravity in a daring, time-bending new novel." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Levy's sense of dramatic form...is unerring, and her precise, dispassionate prose effortlessly summons people and landscapes." - The New Yorker

"Utterly beguiling...an intricate jigsaw, full of pieces that tantalizingly never quite fit together...In writing that is as clear as a stream yet also full of withheld meaning, Levy suggests that the grief and guilt inside Saul...is connected to Europe's legacy of persecution, paranoia, and totalitarianism." - Daily Telegraph (UK)

"Deborah Levy's intelligent and supple latest novel, The Man Who Saw Everything, recently longlisted for the Booker Prize… is stunningly disorienting, fascinating...the balance shifts through Levy's skillful, dizzying storytelling." - The Financial Times (UK)

This information about The Man Who Saw Everything was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Deborah Levy Author Biography

Deborah Levy was born in 1959 in South Africa, where her father was a member of the African National Congress, an academic, and a historian. The family emigrated to Wembley Park, England in 1968. Her parents divorced in 1974

Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts, leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, including Pax, Heresies for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and and was director and writer for Manact Theatre Company, Cardiff

In 1986, at the age of 27, she wrote and published her first novel Beautiful Mutants. Her second novel, Swallowing Geography, was published in 1993, while her third one, Billy and Girl, was published in 1996. Swimming Home, was published in 2011 and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Hot Milk was published in 2016, and was ...

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  • Swimming Home jacket

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