Normal view MARC view ISBD view

The man who saw everything / Deborah Levy.

By: Levy, Deborah.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: [London] : Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2019Copyright date: ©2019Description: 199 pages ; 22 cm.ISBN: 9780241268025 (hardback); 0241268028.Subject(s): Traffic accident victims -- Fiction | Historians -- Fiction | Man-woman relationships -- Fiction | Britons -- Germany (East) -- FictionDDC classification: 823/.914 Summary: "An electrifying and audacious novel about beauty, envy, and carelessness by Deborah Levy, two-time Man Booker Prize finalist. 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--and this story of good intentions and reckless actions. 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."--
List(s) this item appears in: The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2019
Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item reserves
Default Sunshine Library (DIY)
Fiction LEVY Issued 07/12/2019 IA2055602
Default Sunshine Library (DIY)
Fiction LEVY Issued 18/11/2019 IA2055593
Default Sunshine Library (DIY)
Fiction LEVY Issued 10/12/2019 IA2055601
Total reserves: 2

"An electrifying and audacious novel about beauty, envy, and carelessness by Deborah Levy, two-time Man Booker Prize finalist. 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--and this story of good intentions and reckless actions. 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."--

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

I was thinking about how Jennifer Moreau had told me I was never to describe her beauty, not to her, or to anyone else. When I asked her why I was silenced in this way, she said, 'Because you only have old words to describe me.' This was on my mind when I stepped onto the zebra crossing with its black and white stripes at which all vehicles must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the road. A car was coming towards me but it did not stop. I had to jump backwards and fell on my hip, using my hands to protect myself from the fall. The car stalled and a man rolled down the window. He was in his sixties, silver hair, dark eyes, thin lips. He asked if I was okay. When I did not answer he stepped out of his car. 'I apologize,' he said. 'You walked on to the crossing and I slowed down, preparing to stop, but then you changed your mind and walked back to the kerb.' His eyelids were quivering at the corners. 'And then without warning you lurched forward on to the crossing.' I smiled at his careful reconstruction of history, blatantly told in his favour. He furtively glanced at his car to check if it had been damaged. The wing mirror had shattered. His thin lips parted and hesighed sorrowfully, muttering something about how he had ordered the mirror from Milan. I had been up all night writing a lecture on the psychology of male tyrants and I'd made a start with the way Stalin flirted with women by flicking bread at them across the dinner table. My notes, about five sheets of paper, had fallen out of my leather sling bag and, embarrassingly, so had a packet of condoms. I started to pick them up. A small, flat, rectangular object was lying in the road. I noticed the driver was looking at my knuckles as I handed him the object, which felt warm and seemed to be vibrating in my palm. It was not mine soI assumed it was his. Blood dripped through my fingers. My palms were grazed and there was a cut on the knuckle of my left hand. I sucked it while he watched me, clearly distressed. 'Do you need a lift somewhere?' 'I'm okay.' He offered to take me to a pharmacy to 'clean up the wound', as he put it. When I shook my head, he reached out his hand and touched my hair, which was strangely comforting. He asked for my name. 'Saul Adler. Look, it's just a small graze. I have thin skin. I always bleed a lot, it's nothing.' He was holding his left arm in a strange way, cradling it with his right arm. I picked up the condoms and shoved them into my jacket pocket. A wind was up. The leaves that had been swept into small piles under the trees were blowing across the road. The driver told me the traffic had been diverted because there was a demonstration that day in London, and he'd wondered if Abbey Road was closed off. The detour was not signposted clearly. He did not understand why he'd become confused, because he often came this way to watch the cricket at Lord's, nearby. While he spoke, he gazed at the rectangular object in his hand. The object was speaking. There was definitely a voice inside it, a man's voice, and he was saying something angry and insulting. We both pretended not to hear his words. Fuck off I hate you don't come home 'How old are you, Soorl? Can you tell me where you live? 'I think the near collision had really scared the driver. When I told him I was twenty-eight, he didn't believe me and asked for my age again. He was so posh he pronounced my name as if a pebble had been inserted between the roof of his mouth and his lower lip. His silver hair was slicked back with a product that made it shine. I in turn asked for his name. 'Wolfgang,' he said very quickly, as if he did not want me toremember it. 'Like Mozart,' I said, and then, rather like a child showing his father where he'd been hurt after falling off a swing, I pointed to the cut on my knuckle and kept repeating that I was okay. His concerned tone was starting to make me tearful. I wanted him to drive off and leave me alone. Perhaps the tears were to do with my father's recent death, though my father was not as groomed or as gentle as shiny, silver-haired Wolfgang. To hasten his departure, I explained that my girlfriend was about to arrive any minute now, so he didn't have to hang around. In fact she was going to take a photograph of me stepping on to the zebra crossing in the style of the photograph on the Beatles album. 'Which album is that, Soorl?' 'It's called Abbey Road . Everyone knows that. Where have youbeen, Wolfgang?' He laughed but he looked sad. Perhaps it was because of the insultingwords that had been spoken from inside the vibrating object in his hand. 'And how old is your girlfriend?' 'Twenty-three. Actually, Abbey Road was the last album the Beatles recorded together at the EMI studios, which are just over there.' I pointed to a large white house on the other side of the road. 'Of course, I know that,' he said sadly. 'It's nearly as famous as Buckingham Palace.' He walked back to his car, murmuring, 'Take care, Soorl. You're lucky to have such a young girlfriend. By the way, what do you do?' His comments and questions were starting to irritate me - also the way he sighed, as if he carried the weight of the world on the shoulders of his beige cashmere coat. I decided not to reveal that I was a historian and that my subject was communist Eastern Europe. It was a relief to hear the animal growl of his engine revving as I stepped back on the pavement. Excerpted from The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

Booker Prize--finalist Levy (Hot Milk) explores the fragile connections and often vast chasms between self and others in this playful, destabilizing, and consistently surprising novel. The book's first half, set in late 1988, unfolds fairly straightforwardly as young historian Saul Adler, living in London, prepares to travel to communist East Berlin to conduct academic research in exchange for writing a complimentary piece about East Germany's economic miracle. He asks his girlfriend, a talented photographer, to take his photo in the famed Abbey Road crosswalk, as a gift for the Beatles-obsessed sister of his German translator. But as he crosses the road, he is hit by a car--and in many ways, his trip, and perhaps his entire life, changes course. In Germany, Saul both falls in love with and later betrays his translator, Walter, even as he suspects Walter is implicated in the East German surveillance machine. Jump forward to 2016, and another car accident in the same crosswalk upends everything the reader (not to mention Saul himself) has come to expect up to that point. The novel's first half may read like a fairly conventional portrait of a narcissistic young man intent on sabotaging his romantic relationships, but the second half is both impressionistic and profound, interrogating divisions between East and West, past and present, fact and fiction, and even life and death. The greatest divide Levy plumbs, however, is the one between the self and other, as Saul reluctantly acknowledges both his culpability in his own life's tragedies and his insignificance in others' narratives. Levy's novel brilliantly explores the parallels between personal and political history, and prompts questions about how one sees oneself--and what others see. (Oct.)

Booklist Review

Saul Adler was badly bruised when he was sideswiped by a car while trying to cross Abbey Road. His girlfriend was taking a photograph in an effort to re-create the famous Beatles album cover, which he would take as a gift on his upcoming trip to East Germany. But Saul would suffer more than bruises in the aftermath of the car accident in 1988. First dumped by his girlfriend, and then forgetting the all-important tin of pineapple his host had requested, Saul moves in an almost dreamlike state through communist East Berlin, beginning a romantic relationship that poses a huge threat. The time is so pivotal that when Saul is hospitalized after another car accident in 2016, he is immediately taken back to his 28-year-old self and believes he is soon to travel to a country that no longer exists. Unable to stomach the sight of his 56-year-old face, Saul rediscovers all that happened in the years since. Levy has achieved a memorable, poignant voyage through love, loss, and longing.--Bridget Thoreson Copyright 2010 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

Multiple versions of history collideliterallyin a superbly crafted, enigmatic new story from an author of note."I've mixed now and then all up," says Saul Adler, the central figure in Levy's (The Cost of Living, 2018, etc.) tantalizing new novel, which interconnects place, subject, and time as intricately as lace-making. As the book opens, Saul is crossing Abbey Road in London in 1988, mimicking John Lennon on the cover of the Beatles' eponymous album, for the sake of a photograph being taken by his girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. But Saul is knocked down by a car and lightly injured. Later, that same event is presented again with a different outcome, the repetition sandwiching the space in which Jennifer rejects Saul's proposal of marriage and ends their relationship, and he travels to East Berlin on a research trip. There, he falls in love with translator Walter Mller and also, separately, becomes sexually involved with Mller's sister. These, however, are merely the broad brush strokes of a story layered with detail and import, spanning many themes, from sexual identity to fatherhood, memory to mortality. In a relatively short book, Levy spins an extraordinary web of connection, a dreamscape in which plangent images like a pearl necklace, a spilled drink, or the petals of a tree recur like soft chimes. What is past, what is to come, and what is real are all for the reader to discover alongside the character of Saul himself, "a man in pieces." At times he's a young figure of freakish beauty, at others, older and disappointing, someone who wounds or treats cruelly those whom he loves. Head-spinning and playful yet translucent, Levy's writing offers sophistication and delightful artistry.Levy defies gravity in a daring, time-bending new novel. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Powered by Koha