Nine men. Each of them at a different stage of life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving – in the suburbs of Prague, beside a Belgian motorway, in a cheap Cypriot hotel – to understand just what it means to be alive, here and now.
Tracing an arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, All That Man Is brings these separate lives together to show us men as they are – ludicrous and inarticulate, shocking and despicable; vital, pitiable, hilarious, and full of heartfelt longing. And as the years chase them down, the stakes become bewilderingly high in this piercing portrayal of 21st-century manhood.
About the author
David Szalay is the author of three previous novels: Spring, The Innocent and London and the South-East, for which he was awarded the Betty Trask and Geoffrey Faber Memorial prizes. Raised in London, he has lived in Canada and Belgium, and is now based in Budapest. In 2013 he was named as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists.
This is the story of nine men – you could also say it is the life’s story of one man, living somewhere in Europe. The London adolescent travelling Berlin, Prague, Cyprus. At the peak of their lives and challenged by it a Hungarian, a Belgian, the reporter from Copenhagen: it’s all about the other sex and status. And for the last decades of life it is having wealth or not respecting health or not. Man reflecting on life’s importances – subconscious in the beginning, rather conscious towards the end.
The book examines the contemporary man in nine versions. Each of them is at a different stage in life, away from home and striving to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. This brings to life, in a new kind of realism and devastating pathos, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe.