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Longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize
Shortlisted for the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize
Finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction
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.
What the critics say
"A Rubik's cube of a book...[r]ipe and rich...[Levy] is writing with gorgeous, juicy assurance here. It’s stylish: written with a speedy, vivid economy, her characters’ eccentricities leaping off the page. It’s funny: Saul’s narcissistic narration is full of deadpan details of youthful pretentiousness, social awkwardness. It’s sexy: Levy writes keenly about layered attraction and resentment, how her characters bestow and withdraw gifts of sex and affection. And it’s political: the novel exposes the hypocrisies that accompany rigid ideology, but also questions how an individual can live with integrity if they only live for themselves." (The Independent)
"Electrifying...the novel explores both what we see and what we miss until the past and present are staring directly at us." (The Sunday Times)
"There are lyrical passages about lake swimming, cold white wine and pasta restaurants in Soho alongside intense psychological probing of childhood, parental duty and sexual attraction. It’s clever, raw, and it doesn’t play by any rules." (The London Evening Standard)
"An innovative novel set in communist East Berlin. The personal and political histories entwine in a story of memory, loss and art." (The Daily Telegraph)
"Head-spinning and playful yet translucent, Levy’s writing offers sophistication and delightful artistry. Levy defies gravity in a daring, time-bending new novel." (Kirkus starred review)