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The Booker Prize 2022 #2: Trust by Hernan Diaz

What do a novel, an unfinished autobiography, the manuscript for a ghost-written memoir, and a diary have in common? They are all parts of the same book and tell the story of wall street tycoon Andrew Bevel and his wife Mildred’s life. Bevel made his fortune in the financial crash of 1929 and shared a life of luxuries with his wife before she died in a hospital in Switzerland. The unknown author Harold Vanner fictionalised their life story resulting in a book that Bewel tries his best to keep off the shelves. In order to rectify any misrepresentations of his life, and especially his late wife, he start to write an autobiography, but fails to get the tone right. So he hires a ghost writer, the young Ida Partenza to write his memoirs. And soon the daughter of an Italian anarchist tries to solve the mystery of the origin of Bewel’s wealth and the fate of his wife.

Trust is a story about the hands and structures that rule our world. It is the book about one man’s attempt to control all truth, and a woman’s attempt to make him believe that he does. The structure of the novel is intriguing and works perfectly to achieve the stories aim: to make the reader question narratives, putting unreliability centre stage. This historical novel is wonderfully written and plays with form in interesting ways, unfortunately it is the story that lacks in strength. The book promised more than it managed to deliver, plot twists were cleverly embedded but ultimately underwhelming. Discussing the role fictions play in structuring the world we live in offered a lot more substance than Diaz made use of. I loved the beginning, the pace and promise of it, got bored in the middle, and interested again towards the end – before being disappointed by the final reveal. An interesting premise ,a good book, but not a great one.

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