ManBooker 2016 Longlist
In eight stories David Szalay paints a rather sobering picture of ‘man’. He takes us along in the lives of eight men, each at a different age. They range from adolescent to senior, the latter turning out to be the grandfather of the first. We meet them at moments that are definitely not the highlights in their lives. Admittedly, the editor of the newspaper who has an important scope involving a politician might find that an exhilarating moment, he does abuse his friendship with said politician. With one exception Szalay gives us men as we might encounter them. They are not special, not remarkable, they are just normal. The one exception, a succesful entrepreneur, is about to take his life because he has been humiliated and has ended up broke. All the others just potter on. Recognizable and as such confronting, they are just like us. Szalay does not improve on the world, he gives us what he sees. He does chose however not to select moments of happiness or bliss in those eight lives, which he could have easily done. It is a conscious choice to go for the all too ordinary and describe the sobering moments. The eight stories as a result make for a beautiful slightly depressive read.