4 3 2 1 – Paul Auster


The adolescent story of one boy, an American of immigrant parents, is told four times, showing how simple choices can set our lives on a new path. 

◉ “I was instantly drawn to the premise of this book, as this is something I wonder about myself. How does each particular choice I make change the future? And from page 1, it is totally captivating.

“Ferguson and his family are painted in a lifelike manner and every detail is covered so that discovering Ferguson’s life is like recalling your own. The four re-tellings are interspersed, not told one after the other, so the shock of events, such as someone dying is quickly resolved when they re-appear alive and well in the next chapter!

“Despite this multiple narrative style and the structural complexity, it is actually simply read. It’s quite nostalgic too, not that I was alive for Ferguson’s youth or young adulthood, but there is a sense of the book encapsulating a generation. There is a lot of literature, music and historical moments referenced, adding to the sense of time.

“I know authors despair when readers comment on the length of their brick-like novels, but … this book is massive! 866 pages of tightly packed text. And while I do enjoy totally immersing myself in epic tomes, I knew I was never going to get through this before the winner is announced. I could have rushed it just to say I’d finished it, but I am enjoying it too much and so have decided to continue on at my leisurely pace, well past the moment of decision making.” – Rachel

◉ “Sooooo I didn’t quite get through the extremely long 4321. I felt defeated by the 866 pages right from the start and put off even starting it despite the timing of my reading of the Man Booker shortlisters being my best yet! However, as soon as I started it I enjoyed it and really regretted not getting underway earlier.

“Family backgrounds and the immigrant’s arrival in America has been done many times in novels and while I initially thought ‘oh wow, how original …’, I was quickly immersed in the quirky stories and swift pacing of the writing.

“Just my luck it’ll be Paul Auster for the win and I’ll be exiled from my two-person Man Booker shortlister bookclub for life.

“Previous Man Booker shortlister this book most reminded me of: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. Attempted 3 times and yet still unfinished.” – Suzy

Published 2017
Henry Holt & Co
866 pages

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