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Reviews of Trust by Hernan Diaz

Trust

by Hernan Diaz

Trust by Hernan Diaz X
Trust by Hernan Diaz
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    May 2022, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2023, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Chloe Pfeiffer
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About this Book

Book Summary

An unparalleled novel about money, power, intimacy, and perception.

Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth—all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Hernan Diaz's Trust elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another—and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

ONE

Because he had enjoyed almost every advantage since birth, one of the few privileges denied to Benjamin Rask was that of a heroic rise: his was not a story of resilience and perseverance or the tale of an unbreakable will forging a golden destiny for itself out of little more than dross. According to the back of the Rask family Bible, in 1662 his father's ancestors had migrated from Copenhagen to Glasgow, where they started trading in tobacco from the Colonies. Over the next century, their business prospered and expanded to the extent that part of the family moved to America so they could better oversee their suppliers and control every aspect of production. Three generations later, Benjamin's father, Solomon, bought out all his relatives and outside investors. Under his sole direction, the company kept flourishing, and it did not take him long to become one of the most prominent tobacco traders on the Eastern Seaboard. It may have been true that his inventory was sourced from the...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Trust is a novel that is told through four separate documents – a novel-within-the-novel, an unfinished manuscript, a memoir, and a diary. Why do you think the author chose to tell the larger story this way? How do the different sections speak to each other?
  2. Each separate piece of the book offers a different character's perspective on the same period, subjects, relationships, and events, revealing new truths and calling others into question. Which revelations surprised you most? Whose perspective and narrative did you most enjoy or value and why?
  3. One of the major themes of Trust is power, who has it, how they got it, how they maintain it. Another theme is history, how it gets decided and shared, and who gets to tell the story. How...
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  • award image

    Pulitzer Prize
    2023

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The novel is like a feminist retelling of a classic, male-oriented story, except that the original story is also one that Diaz wrote. Look at what is missing from these accounts, he implores us. Who do you believe? Trust is conventional in that our most pressing questions of plot are answered at the end, but there is no climactic eureka moment, where some crime is solved and the criminal is dramatically exposed—although there is one reveal, late in the book, that provides that satisfying feeling of shock and recognition: "Of course, how could I have not seen it coming?!"..continued

Full Review (837 words)

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(Reviewed by Chloe Pfeiffer).

Media Reviews

BookPage (starred review)
Like a tower of gifts waiting to be unwrapped, Trust offers a multitude of rewards to be discovered and enjoyed… [a] beautifully composed masterpiece.

Esquire
[A] riveting story of class, capitalism, and greed. The result is a mesmerizing metafictional alchemy of grand scope and even grander accomplishment.

Oprah Daily
A virtuoso performance by an emerging talent…A spellbinding tale that illuminates the impact of money on all our lives.

Vogue
Important and timely. But the uniquely brilliant way in which Diaz tells that story, as meticulously researched as it is narratively exhilarating, makes it a novel not just for the present age but for the ages.

Booklist (starred review)
For all its elegant complexity and brilliant construction, Diaz's novel is compulsively readable, and despite taking place in the early 1900s, the plot reads like an indictment of the start of the twenty-first century with its obsession with obscure financial instruments and unhinged capital accumulation. A captivating tour de force that will astound readers with its formal invention and contemporary relevance.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Diaz's novel is a feat of literary gamesmanship [that] brilliantly weaves its multiple perspectives to create a symphony of emotional effects...[T]he collection of palimpsests makes for a thrilling experience and a testament to the power and danger of the truth—or a version of it—when it's set down in print. A clever and affecting high-concept novel of high finance.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Diaz returns after his Pulitzer finalist In the Distance with a wondrous portrait in four texts of devious financier Andrew Bevel, who survives the Wall Street crash of 1929 and becomes one of New York City's chief financial barons before dying a decade later at age 62...a kaleidoscope of capitalism run amok...Grounded in history and formally ambitious, this succeeds on all fronts. Once again, Diaz makes the most of his formidable gifts.

Author Blurb acqueline Woodson, National Book Award-winning author of Red at the Bone
That rare jewel of a book—jaw-dropping storytelling against the backdrop of beautiful writing. Amidst all the noise I the world, whole days found me curled up on the couch, lost inside Diaz's brilliance.

Author Blurb Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of Matrix
Hernan Diaz is a narrative genius whose work easily encompasses both a grand scope and the crisp and whiplike line. Trust builds its world and characters with subtle aplomb. What a radiant, profound and moving novel.

Author Blurb Sigrid Nunez, National Book Award–winning author of The Friend
Though set in a historical New York, Trust speaks to matters of the most urgent significance to the present day. Money, power, class, marital and filial relations, the roles played by trust and betrayal in human affairs—Diaz's development of his chosen themes is deeply insightful. Cleverly constructed and rich in surprises, this splendid novel offers serious ideas and serious pleasures on every beautifully composed page.

Reader Reviews

Holly Weston

Outstanding in every way
I read this book, and then I immediately read it again! It is so interesting and so well written! Each succeeding book within the book adds another layer of detail and understanding. The story itself is fascinating. The structure of the book is ...   Read More
Tony Conty

Worthy of a Pulitzer
“Trust” by Hernan Diaz is a lot. “Books within books” test your abilities, and you must reread a lot. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the work. You will feel more competent when you finish. The main character, Benjamin Rask, is wealthy and ...   Read More
Cathryn Conroy

A Brilliant, Highly Imaginative Literary Puzzle About the Power of Money, Ambition, and Greed
When it comes to reading novels, who do you trust? I'm not sure I ever before thought about this question in such direct terms, but that's the underlying premise of this remarkable novel by Hernan Diaz, which won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for ...   Read More
Techeditor

The point being?
TRUST is a really difficult book for me to review because I’m not sure that I understand it correctly. Here is what I know. TRUST can be considered to be a novel written by Hernan Diaz. It consists of four stories: a novel written by the ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

How TV & Film Portrays Capital Accumulation

Hernan Diaz has said about writing his novel Trust that, despite the numerous books depicting "the symptoms of wealth," "there are very, very few novels that deal with the process of accumulation of capital. This, to me, was baffling." This isn't surprising to me, as the accumulation of capital seems narratively uninteresting, at least less interesting than stories about the lives of wealthy people or the psychological wounds that keep them from appreciating their money. The accumulation of capital Diaz is talking about—investment—is not even necessarily "striking it rich." It is often having a significant amount of money in the first place and growing it, which is interesting in its perverse banality, but not exactly exciting. ...

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