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All That Man Is

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  7,668 ratings  ·  953 reviews
Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving -- in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel -- to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly sepa ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 22nd 2016 by Jonathan Cape
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  7,668 ratings  ·  953 reviews

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Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shortlisted for Man Booker prize 2016!


An interesting collection of short stories about men, probably better appreciated by blokes.

After reading about half of the stories I thought that if this is All Man Is, then we are all doomed. What I mean is that most of the men in the stories were annoying, some even despicable. Now, after finishing all of the stories I have a better opinion and understanding of what the author tried to do with this book.

The book consists of nine stories which presen
I’ve just found my best book of the year…in a year filled with best books. Szalay (pronounced SOL-loy) writes nine stories about men, different men, each approximately seven years older than the man preceding him. The men are Europeans, visiting or living in a country not their own. The youngest man is seventeen, the oldest is seventy-three. I laughed my way through this tragicomic look at what it means to be a man, for Szalay put in more than enough to qualify this as the best sort of literatur ...more
Lee Klein
Dec 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just finished and thought but didn't say aloud what a great fucking book. Now it's first thing the next morning and I'll try to collect my thoughts in text: my mother started recommending this in the fall but I was in the middle of The Sleepwalkers and wasn't reading so many pages a day, meaning it would be months until I read something else, plus the title seemed unrememberable and maybe excessively manly (it's ultimately sort of ironic: time reduces "all that man is" to nothing). She kept sayi ...more
Aug 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I found this to be an entirely uneven read, the individual short stories not seeming to connect enough to be considered a novel. I would rather Szalay had reversed the order- the youthful protagonists of the first offering were irritatingly dull and I'm sure it negatively affected my enthusiasm for the rest of the work. As the stages of life progressed, the people became more interesting (is that the point, maybe? I'm not sure) but I never felt like I discovered anything profound about human beh ...more
LA Cantrell
Jan 02, 2017 rated it liked it
If you're interested in reading this collection of thematically linked stories, then you've likely read the publisher's blurb. We get nine stories of white, 8/9ths straight, European men who are traveling to destinations across Europe that are not home to them. Whether it is a holiday or business that puts them in planes, trains, and automobiles, their temporary displacement affords them a moment here or there to ponder Life. The men seem to portray a universal European "Every Man."

We see the p
Leaving aside the over-ambitious title for a minute, David Szalay's best writing is about ordinary working life, the bits of existence disproportionately absent from the world of literary fiction, where the jobs most people have are replaced with stories of writers, artists and perhaps the odd high-flying lawyer. That understanding of working life has a chance to come through in some of these nine stories/sections about white British or European men of increasing age: however I think that only o ...more
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All That Man Is is called a novel, but not really. Short stories? I suppose. But not really. It's a chronicle not of man but men, different ones, each older than the other as the book progresses. So, just as you get with short stories, there's a complete shift in gears and reinvestment in new characters as you go.

Sort of. The "sort of" part is that these very different men with very different personalities and tastes living in very different circumstances are, in many ways, one. Call it the "Ev
Having finished reading this year's Man Booker shortlist, I decided to go back to the one that eluded me last year. I recall that at the time much of the debate was about whether such a disconnected set of stories should be regarded as a novel, and having read it now I am not entirely convinced. It does have some thematic unity - each of the nine parts focuses on a different man, in a different part of Europe, struggling with a crisis of confidence, and they do get progressively older as the boo ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read, and loved, ‘London and the South-East’, an earlier book by David Szalay - click here to read my review. The day after I finished it, this, David Szalay’s latest book ‘All That Man Is’, made the 2016 Booker Prize Shortlist, a development that made me even keener to read it. My expectations were high.

Just like ‘London and the South-East’, ‘All That Man Is’ is a melancholic, downbeat novel. I say novel but this is a tad contentious as the book contains nine short stories about nine differe
In a riff on the Ages of Man (four, five or seven, depending on which classical source you turn to), Szalay gives nine vignettes of men trying to figure out what life is all about. His antiheroes range from age 17 to 73. Each section has several chapters and follows a similar pattern: a man from one European country travels to another European country; there are lots of scenes set at airports or otherwise in transit, and part of the overall atmosphere of dislocation is simply the effort of havin ...more
Average writer writes average fiction about average men and is nominated for an award bc he captures the average man.

If i wanted to read this sort of stuff I'd read one of those focus pieces in esquire or gq.
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2017
Within the eternity of time there is only a mystery-only a sense that there is something that we will never know or understand. An empty, unknowable space. Like, in Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, that mosaic of the curtains opening to show us nothing, only a patch of plain golden tiles.

Nine men at different stages of their lives, portrayed through nine months of one year and nagging in the back of my mind as I read was that question: Really? Is this ALL that man is? For barely one of them is at home in
Peter Boyle
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booker-nominee
"You learn to love what's there, not what's not there. How can you live, otherwise?"

Is it a novel or a loosely-connected collection of short stories? That was the main bone of contention when All That Man Is was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2016. Whatever the classification of this worthy tome, I enjoyed it a great deal (much more than the actual winner, in fact).

Each of the nine stories portrays a man at a different stage in his life, from 17-year-old Simon, backpacking around Europe and
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Series of 9 novellas – the main protagonist of which is always male and which progress obviously through ages (from gap year to retirement).

The stories in turn feature:

Two gap-year travellers staying with a Czech (absent) husband and wife, who possibly wants to seduce the main character but to his disappointment seduces his friend instead when the main character does not respond;

A Frenchman on a very cheap holiday in a terrible hotel in Cyprus whose search for hedonism fails but who instead sl
vi macdonald
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
Well this book...exists? I honestly have no opinion on this, this is possibly the least I have cared about a book in a while. I didn't hate it. But I didn't like it either. I just read it and thought "huh, well that happened" and then went off to do more stimulating activities, like eating paper while staring at a blank concrete wall. ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
Man, ...really, is that all man is? What a soulless prose Szalay offers, and what an all pervading sadness! Already from page one men (that is: males) are presented with an empty gaze into life, cardboard figures adorned with all the typical clichés. And it continues like that for 8 chapters, each time with other male protagonists, starting with 17-years old boys and gradually climbing up in age. Written in prose that is barely worth that name. Only the last, ninth chapter shows a bit of writing ...more
Roger Brunyate
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
And That's All?

I considered many possibilities for the title of this review: first The Nine Ages of Man, then Holidays from Hell, then Losers. David Szalay's nine stories feature men at different stages of their lives, they are all set abroad, and they are uniformly depressing. Although there is only one small connection between them (the 73-year-old reired diplomat in the ninth story is the grandfather of the 17-year-old student in the first), the publisher's blurb suggests that they "aggregate
Paul Fulcher
Sep 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, booker-2016
"You were nearly a novel my little cherry pip. Yes. Out you popped, out of your author's tumkin, and everyones shouting: “It’s a novel, it’s a novel!” And then someone said: “But it hasn’t got recurrent characters and a story arc!” And then I said: “A novel without recurrent characters and a story arc? God be praised, it’s a miracle. A novel without recurrent characters and a story arc!” And then Sir Thomas More pointed out that a novel without recurrent characters and a story arc is a short sto ...more
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, 21st-century
3.5 to 4 stars

This was a welcome cleanse from Eileen.

David Szalay is erudite, cerebral and wise beyond his years. And sometimes a little boring.

In this work, he's woven the "everyday" lives of men into a wonderful tableau that offers the reader time to pause and reflect on the stages of one's life. He offers insight and wisdom by painting the minutiae of life so beautifully that one reconsiders the actions of one's life and realizes ... yes, it really was a work of art, having lived through tho
Kasa Cotugno
This is the first 2016 Booker nominee that I feel is deserving of the recognition. Although it is classified a novel, it really is a short story collection, each presenting a man at a pivotal time in his life, and each advancing the protagonist's age. For the most part, these men are away from home, in present day Europe, and the picture of the EU is so vivid, so realistically portrayed, the reader is transported to whatever the locale. Not your tourists' vacay, though. In some cases, the subjec ...more
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars Man Booker Short-list 2016

The Man Booker prize is awarded to NOVELS. I think it is a stretch to call this a novel. It is nine loosely connected stories but who am I to argue with the Booker committee?

There are nine stories that make up this "novel" each with a male protagonist of increasing age. The first and last story are the most directly connected but they all share several recurring elements and themes. The main one being that each protagonist is suffering some sort of existentia
Sep 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: man-booker-nod, 2016
Floating over the world, the hard earth fathoms down through shrouds of mist and vapour, the thought hits him like a missile. Wham. This is it. This is all there is. There is nothing else.
A silent explosion.
He is still staring out the window.
This is all there is.
It's not a joke. Life is not a joke.

All That Man Is is a strange kind of book: With nine (mostly) unrelated chapters about nine different men at different stages in their lives, we're not to think of this as a collection of short stories
Marianna the Booklover
I really enjoyed this! Review coming soon :)
Oct 20, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh thank fuck for that. It's over.

ALL THAT MAN IS is a collection of 9 short stories about 9 men at different stages in their lives who are all isolated and unhappy with life.

I had high expectations for this book. I wanted to love it. And, sure, it's not like it's all bad. Some of Szalay's writing was utterly brilliant. But, sadly for him, his occasional brilliance did not make up for poor stories. I think the only reason I kept reading to the end was in the desperate hope that the next story wo
Jul 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 2016-booker
In the movie “Night on Earth”, Jim Jarmusch tells the tales of 5 cab drivers and their fares on one night. Each cab ride takes place at a different time of day. The trick of the movie is that because of time zones, all the cab rides are actually simultaneous. This book has a similar feel. It presents us with 9 pictures of 9 different men and, in each story, the man is older than the man in previous story (we go from teenagers to a man in his 70s), but it has the feel of simultaneity. So, it buil ...more
while of the 3 completed parts so far only the first was new for me (two 17 year old English boys, Simon, introspective and Ferdinand, outgoing, taking a trip to Europe, with stops in Berlin and Prague - very good story though the weakest of the 3), I really enjoyed reading the full story of Emma, Balasz and Gabor of which about 1/2-2/3 appeared in the Granta 123 (best of young English novelist 4 as Europa) and re-reading the story of Bernhard's Cypriot vacation which appeared fully in a Paris r ...more
Sep 04, 2017 added it
Shelves: university
7/10 for 'Last Year's Novels' module.

Can someone in the lit fix world explain - in a non patronising way - how this is classed as novel and not a collection of short stories?
Jake Goretzki
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
I really enjoyed this. It's not going to avoid being seen as a 'bloke novel'. It may I suspect even be seen as a little regressive in some circles, examining only the dilemmas and anxieties of blokes and almost always concerning their ability / lack of ability to get laid. (This alone, frankly, keeps it engaging actually - all 'Ooh, where is this going?'). But it's more thoughtful than this. It's about trying to get a handle on what you're bothering with all this for.

It'll be described as a ser
Kyriakos Sorokkou
I was interested in this book solely because one of the nine stories was taking place in Cyprus. And I'm always pleasantly surprised when my country is part of a story or even mentioned.

This book was shortlisted for Man Booker Prize 2016
It is promoted as a novel but it's actually nine short stories with a few connections between them, mostly thematic, not plot-wise.

The structure of the book was the interesting part of the book.

We begin with Simon who is seventeen and we end with Tony who is seve
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Let's fucking hope not..

I wrote that after two stories (despite how this book is marketed it is not a novel), and feel the same after finishing: the men in here are sad specimens, obsessed with money and sex, and each feeling power slipping away from them. But the book is beautifully written, with great attention to detail, full of nuance and suggestion (many - well handled - literary allusions), and has a great deal of sympathy with its protagonists despite their delusions and bad behaviour. I
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The Mookse and th...: 2016 Shortlist: All That Man Is 48 82 Oct 08, 2016 07:55AM  
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David Szalay (born 1974 in Montreal, Quebec) is an English writer.

He was born in Canada, moved to the UK the following year and has lived there ever since. He studied at Oxford University and has written a number of radio dramas for the BBC.

He won the Betty Trask Award for his first novel, London and the South-East, along with the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Since then he has written two other

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