All That Man Is

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize

A brilliantly observed, large-hearted work of fiction that introduces to a North American audience a major and mature literary talent. For readers of David Bezmozgis, Nathan Englander, Neil Smith, John Cheever, and Milan Kundera. 
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 twenty-first-century manhood.


He leaves the office two hours earlier than usual. Mid-afternoon, half-empty train to Gatwick. A window seat on the plane. Weak tea, and a square of chocolate with a picture of Alpine pasture on the wrapper. And then it hits him. Floating over the world, the hard earth fathoms down through shrouds of mist and vapour, the...
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Praise for All That Man Is:
"[If] you are unfamiliar with [Szalay’s] work, let me urge you to read him since, on this evidence, he is one of those rare writers with skill in all the disciplines that first-rate fiction requires. Szalay’s writing is virtuosic whether observing external realities or psychology . . . he also has a prose style that marries nuance and precision with a kinetic cadence; his language is energetically alive throughout. . . . These are the best stories I’ve read for ages." – The Guardian 

"All That Man Is [is] the perfect vehicle for his [Szalay’s] particular talent. That talent is noticing. Like John Updike, he not only perceives the banal, everyday world in an acute and photographic way but he can also translate it into high-definition prose. All That Man Is is a showcase for Szalay’s virtuosic range." – Telegraph

"Each story is a beautifully crystallised vision of what it is for a man to be a particular age . . . Szalay’s forensic untangling of their psyches, and his talent for painting delicious destinations . . . make you want to journey with them to the bitter end. . . . It’s hard to imagine reading a better book this year." – The Times

"His [Szalay’s] new book is populated by small men with oversized ambitions. . . . Far from celebrating man's infinite variety, the book reveals his endless repetitiveness. One of Szalay's strengths is that he is able to reveal his characters’ limitations – and, quite often, their absurdities – without mocking them. . . . [He] is capable of conjuring tenderness from any situation. . . . [Readers] will find a great deal to enjoy in these pages, and further evidence that Szalay is one of the best fortysomething writers we have." – The Guardian 

"Each story grips the reader by the throat. We fully inhabit their progression of heroes and finally face the dreadful truth of the human condition: that nothing is eternal, not us, not our children, the human race, the Earth nor the stars. Rarely has it been so brilliantly and chillingly spelled out." – Daily Mail 

Praise for David Szalay's work:

 • "He is a writer who can take you anywhere." The Sunday Times
 • "Anyone who appreciated Martin Amis's Koba the Dread and Orlando Figes's The Whisperers will love it, as will fans of The Lives of Others or Burnt by the Sun. As with both films, the theme of silent, regret-filled horror is beautifully, chillingly captured." Viv Groskop, The Observer
 • "Like Milan Kundera, Szalay positions his characters somewhere along the endlessly contested lines that he draws between comedy and something subtler, less showy, and altogether sadder than tragedy." The Guardian, Chris Cleave, author of Little Bee