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The Man Who Saw Everything

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  136 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Electrifying and audacious, an unmissable new novel about old and new Europe, old and new love, from the twice-Man Booker-shortlisted author of Hot Milk and Swimming Home

In 1989 Saul Adler (a narcissistic young historian) is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. He is apparently fine; he gets up and goes to see his art student girlfriend, Jennifer Moreau. They have sex then brea
Hardcover, 208 pages
Expected publication: August 29th 2019 by Hamish Hamilton
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3.95  · 
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May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the Booker Longlist!

For those readers who need to be on sure and certain ground in their reading, this latest Deborah Levy novel is not for them. Levy makes few compromises here, she raises many questions and more often than not declines to provide any answers, there are nebulous, fragmented, uncertain and unreliable realities, memories and history. In 1988 a young self obsessed Jewish historian, Saul Adler, is hit by a car on the Abbey Road, the iconic Abbey Road that the Beatles are photogr
Elyse Walters
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was intrigued and puzzled from the very first paragraph beginning in London, 1988.
Saul Adler says:
“I was thinking about how Jennifer Moreau had told me I was never to describe her beauty, not to her, or to anyone else. When I asked her why I was silenced in this way, she said, ‘Because you only have old words to describe me.’
This was on my mind when I stepped onto the zebra crossing with it’s black-and-white stripes at which all vehicles must stop to allow pedestrians to cross the road. A car
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-booker, 2019-read, uk
Now Nominated for the Booker Prize 2019
Deborah Levy's new novel certainly tells a captivating story, but what makes this book so fantastic is her smashing (ha!) narrative concept. Our narrator is Saul, a British historian and expert on Eastern European communism. After his girlfriend Jennifer breaks up with him, 28-year-old Saul travels to the GDR as part of his research. It's 1988, but mysteriously, Saul already seems to know that the wall will come down only one year later...

...which brings u
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This doesn't come out in the states until October but this might be the book that finally wins Deborah Levy her Man Booker Prize! I love how it starts as one kind of novel and then plays with expectations, while the writing is still able to resonate deeply with the reader. This is a novel to be experienced so don't read a lot about it, just read it.

I did get early access from the publisher through NetGalley after someone at NG helped me with a file issue, but even though this is on the MB longl
Jun 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Update Aug. 11: Since my ARC disappears in a week, and now that (I am delighted to say) it HAS made the Booker longlist, I wanted to re-read it and see if it held up as well as in my initial read, and also see if I could glean even more meaning on a second go-round. Reading it more or less in a single sitting, and with some foreknowledge of what transpires did help me to ferret out some additional connections and resonances I missed the first time through, and I also had more of an emotional rea ...more
Gumble's Yard
Re-read following its longlisting for the 2019 Booker Prize.

In three days I was travelling to East Germany, the GDR, to research cultural opposition to the rise of fascism in the 1930s at the Humboldt University. Although my German was reasonably fluent they had assigned me a translator. His name was Walter Müller. I was to stay for two weeks in East Berlin with his mother and sister, who had offered me a room in their tenement apartment near the university. Walter Müller was part of the reason
Paul Fulcher
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now, deservedly, longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize

‘Hello, Saul. How’s it going?’‘I’m trying to cross the road,’ I replied. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘you’ve been trying to cross the road for thirty years but stuff happened on the way.’

The Beatles album Abbey Road (the recording sessions for which were the last in which all four participated) famously has on its cover no words but just a photograph, taken in August 1969, of the fab four crossing a zebra-crossing outside the EMI Studios in the road of t
Andrew Smith
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It’s London in 1988 and Saul Adler, a Jewish historian, is preparing for a visit to East Berlin. He’s been invited to visit the GDR on the understanding that he’ll write a glowing paper on the economic miracle he finds there. As a gift for the sister of his German host, who is known to be infatuated with the Beatles, he’s asked his photographer girlfriend to take a picture of him crossing Abbey Road, as John, Paul, Ringo and George had done on the cover of their legendary album. But Saul is clip ...more
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now re-read as publication day approaches and after its inclusion on the Booker Prize longlist.

If I were to create a list of books that require (not just deserve) a second reading, I think I would put this one at the top. On my first reading, I highlighted several passages as I saw them refer back to earlier parts of the book, but, of course, I could not look in the other direction. On a second read, I was able to use my knowledge of the book to look forwards and the number of highlights rose dr
(3.5) It’s best to read this book cold, not primed by reviews that provide too much information about the plot, so I’m going to give only the barest of details. The narrative revolves around the apparently surpassingly beautiful and self-absorbed Saul Adler, a 28-year-old graduate student in history. As the novel opens, it is 1988, and he is preparing to travel to the German Democratic Republic to conduct research on cultural opposition to the rise of fascism in the 1930s. However, he has a priv ...more
Jun 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) Charming and funny but possibly more slight than it imagines it is and perhaps a bit cute.
Roman Clodia
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well done, Deborah Levy, on cramming so much thoughtful stuff into such a relatively short book: in little more than 200pp she makes us think about reflections and connections, about time and space, about history and its formation, about families and love affairs, about death and living, about Europe and its divisions, about spectres that haunt from the future (Marx's 'there is a spectre haunting Europe') and from the past, about gender and its porosity ('he told me I was the Marie Antoinette of ...more
Anita Pomerantz
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow, but I will say for sure that this book won't be everyone's cup of tea. But I love Levy, and this book was no exception. It's not at all science fiction, but it evoked a lot of the same feelings I had when I watched the movie, Inception, in the sense that the reader is not spoon fed a plot.

UPDATED thoughts:

This book blows my mind. Levy is a rare talent, and here she plays with structure and an unreliable narrator while still using straightforward, accessible prose
Jun 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, netgalley
2.5 rounded up

I'm a massive fan of Deborah Levy's nonfiction but her fiction seems to miss the mark in terms of what I look for in a novel. The Man Who Saw Everything opens with our protagonist, Saul, at Abbey Road, his girlfriend taking a photo of him at the infamous zebra crossing. The story then jumps around between locations and time frames a lot which I found pretty confusing and disorientating for the first 50%. Levy (just about) pulls it off in the end thanks to her deft way with words, b
Jaclyn Crupi
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this as the Booker Prize longlist was announced and I can completely see how it made the cut. I’m loving all the Levy love! This was also weirdly perfect reading after seeing the film Yesterday on Monday night.
Kasa Cotugno
Deborah Levy is sly. Even the title here is misleading. And with her other fictional works, there is an overhanging sense of menace, that not everything is as it appears to be.

We first meet Saul Adler in 1988, in the process of recreating at least in part the iconic Abbey Road cover, stepping onto the zebra walk as his girlfriend, on a ladder, snaps a photo. A photo meant as a gift for a Beatle fanatic in the GDR, sister of his translator. Clipped by a Jag XKE, he is barely grazed. And there is
Chris Haak
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Deborah Levy has written yet another great book! I probably need to have read it slower in order to get all the time references clearer and to even more appreciate it, but I just can't with Levy, she's just too compulsively readable. Loved it!
Thank you Random House and Edelweiss for the ARC
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book

My thoughts

"It's like this, Saul Adler: when I was twenty-three I loved the way you touched me, but when the afternoon slipped in and you slipped out of me, you were already looking for someone else. No, it's like this, Jennifer Moreau I loved you every night and every day, but you were scared of my love and I was scared of my love too. No, she said, I was scared of your envy which was bigger than your love.

Attention Saul Adler. Attention! Look to the left and to the right, cros
Nicole D.
It's like this Deborah Levy, you rock my world!

This book was perfect. Seriously ...

Full review coming to as part of our Booker shadow panel
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog:
“Yes,” older Jennifer said, “I knew I had to get away from your love as fast as possible.”

It is 1988, Saul Adler is a beautiful, young Historian thinking only about his glamorous girlfriend Jennifer, a photographer who is planning to take a picture of him crossing Abbey Road just like the Beatles album cover for his host’s sister Luna, who adores the Beatles. In three days he is meant to leave for East Germany (GDR) to research “cultural opposit
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate Wyver
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
?? I didn't really get it ?? But not in an interesting way ??
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
This is an intriguing book. Saul is the main character and is a vain and narcissistic historian about to embark on a research trip to East Germany just before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He gets hit by a car while crossing the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing and sustains minor injuries. His girlfriend breaks up with him and he cannot understand why, even though it's obviously due to his self absorption. He goes to Berlin and falls for his translator, Walter but also manages to have sex with Wa ...more
The Man Who Saw Everything is one strange novel.

Saul Adler is a history lecturer with a specific interest in East Germany. Prior to a trip to East Berlin he is knocked down while posing for a photograph on the Abbey Road zebra crossing. He seems to be relatively unscathed…

For the first half of the novel, Saul’s story is quite straightforward. He flies off to Berlin (sadly without the tinned apricots he was told to bring), strikes up a friendship with the lecturer who is hosting him, goes off mus
Maya Panika
The ultimate in unreliable narrators, Saul Adler is hit by a car on Abbey Road. He is fine, he walks away. He is badly injured, possibly dying. Both times, the driver reacts oddly. Both times, the driver queries his age. Is Saul dying? What is real, imagined, dreamed, hallucinated? Was the accident in 1989 - the year the Berlin Wall came down, or 2016 - the year of Brexit? Is it both?
The book seems full of small intricate clues: Saul has his picture taken on Abbey Road. He is dressed as John, b
RTC closer to publication.
Suraj Kumar
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
The Man Who Saw Everything presents an immersive and surreal story of Saul Adler- a young historian. The novel spans a period of roughly 30 years. It opens on a September day in 1988 in London when Saul gets hit by a car while crossing the Abbey Road. Following this event, he breaks up with his girlfriend and leaves for study to East Berlin. There he meets a set of characters who are as enigmatic as himself.

The second part of the novel opens up 28 years later in London, when Saul is once again h
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arguably one of the best novels I have ever read in my life. It's brilliant. It wrecked me.
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘A light breeze blew into the GDR, but I knew it came from America. A wind from another time. It brought with it the salt scent of seaweed and oysters. And wool. A child’s knitted blanket. Folded over the back of a chair. Time and place all mixed up. Now. Then. There. Here.’

Longlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, Deborah Levy’s new novel is a stunning, challenging meditation on memory and versions of history. The central character, Saul Adler, is wonderfully unlikeable: vain and self-centred, h
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The Mookse and th...: 2019 Booker Longlist: The Man Who Saw Everything 21 80 Aug 18, 2019 08:59AM  
Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their "intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination", including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY ...more