All That Man Is – David Szalay

all-that-man-isREAD FOR BOOKERTHON

Nine men, each at a different stage of life, each of them away from home, try to understand what it means to be alive.

➤ “I felt pretty wary coming into All That Man Is, a particularly male-focused read with nine separate stories about characters who seem loosely linked by a few commonalities and themes.

“In a nutshell you could say this was a book about the stereotypical interests of men….fast cars, super-yachts, private jets and of course sex – whether longingly imagined or intensely experienced.

“The author delves deeper though into the insecurities and fears that are faced by men of all ages (European and heterosexual ones anyway).

“It’s pretty horrible of me to say, but it was quite refreshing to see alpha-males fail so spectacularly when they are portrayed in most other media as being all-powerful and domineering. The women in these characters’ lives had their shit sorted in a way that the men could only wish for.

“Overall I enjoyed what felt like a unique and unfiltered look into the male psyche, in all its uncomfortable and messy glory.” – Suzy

➤ “So, a short story collection is shortlisted for the Man Booker. A short story collection disguised as a novel no less. Apparently links exist between some of the characters, but they are difficult to pick.

“As a short story collection, All That Man Is is a fine example. The stories deliver what they promise, men analysing what this thing called life is all about, each in a different city, societal group and moment in time. Their dilemmas are real and eloquently portrayed and actually reveal insight into deeper reckonings some men may have. It certainly held my attention throughout all 400-odd pages. The book is very masculine though, with women given only secondary and sex-based roles in every story – don’t worry there was no mistreatment, rather the women were all self-assured characters.

“Abilities of the author acknowledged and put aside, I still come back to the fact that this is a book of nine short stories and I didn’t think short story collections were eligible for the Man Booker.” – Rachel

Published 2016
Jonathan Cape
448 pages



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