The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy

Saul Adler is in love. His girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau is about to photograph him on the zebra crossing on Abbey Road, in tribute to the famous The Beatles shot. And then he’s hit by a car.

It’s hard to review this book without plot spoilers. The idea of the novel disorients best when the reader doesn’t know the events of 2016, nearly 30 years after first crossing Abbey Road. Our experience of time, love, pain and identity are all explored in the after effects of Saul’s collision. True recognition, foresight, all play tricks on each other and we wander through the novel seeking a sense of coherence Saul himself lacks.

As Saul travels to East Germany under the GDR, the political nature of division falls under the same surreal scrutiny.

Then there is Jennifer Moreau and her photography, her art. It forms a whole that will outlast them all, whatever that might mean.

The Man Who Saw Everything is a compulsive read. In some ways Saul is a repulsively self-obsessed character and yet this self-obsession seems to mirror our own self-centred interpretation of the time we have on earth.

I enjoyed The Man Who Saw Everything. It is elegant, clever, wistful and just a little bit sentimental. If you wonder about the ever changing interpretive nature of your own autobiography, this might be the novel for you. It didn’t hit me the way Hot Milk did, but it’s an impressively complex novel that has already, unsurprisingly, made its way onto the Man Booker long list for 2019.

I know I said I would review Rosewater by Tade Thompson next, but then I realised I had this review unpublished in a notebook (as I said in my last post, I’ve been reading and reviewing but not posting!) and thought I’d post it before reviewing Rosewater which I definitely will discuss next.

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