Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Leviathan” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.96  ·  Rating details ·  17,270 ratings  ·  869 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Paul Auster (The New York Trilogy) opens Leviathan with the tearing of a bomb explosion and the death of one Benjamin Sachs. Ben’s one-time best friend, Peter Aaron, begins to retrospectively investigate the transformation that led Ben from his enviable stable life, to one of a recluse. Both were once intelligent, yet struggling novelists ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Leviathan, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Olivia Ah well see my review...imo ALL Auster's books ARE about his life in the sense that any philosopher's wrtints/treatise/theses relate directly to the m…moreAh well see my review...imo ALL Auster's books ARE about his life in the sense that any philosopher's wrtints/treatise/theses relate directly to the massive web of how and why sentient beings think and behave as they do. The hooks for the narratives being entanglements representing possible or potential issues between the characters of life as Auster has experienced his life and can make interpretations.
Some writers simply tell tales. Yarns for temporary entertainment getting from a to be without out too many puzzling distractions. Others write to unravel the clues in the crossword of life, to explore who, what and why of the psyche.
Such is Auster.
So yes his writings have to be about himself and the many rsalities, the many possible renditions of events which we all encounter.
Some proceed in a li ear event after another as if inevitable. Others live in the round with many layers and possible conclusions.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  17,270 ratings  ·  869 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Leviathan
Ahmad Sharabiani
Leviathan, Paul Auster

Leviathan is American writer Paul Auster’s seventh novel, published by Viking Press in 1992.

The novel follows the life and crimes of a man who decides to take action over words to deliver his message to the world, as told by his estranged best friend.

The novel opens like a detective story as the narrator begins, Six days ago, a man blew himself up by the side of a road in northern Wisconsin.

There were no witnesses, but it appears that he was sitting on the grass next to
Six days ago, a man blew himself up by the side of the road in northern Wisconsin. There were not witnesses, but it appears that he was sitting on the grass next to his parked car when the bomb he was building accidentally went off....The day after the explosion, the wire services ran a brief article about the case. It was one of those cryptic, two-paragraph stories they bury in the middle of the paper, but I happened to catch it in The New York Times while I was eating lunch that afternoon. Alm ...more
Steven Godin
In terms of American writers, Auster stands up there being so unique, a writer one must read at least once. He’s remarkably talented here and his originality continues to impress me.

Leviathan literally means the biggest of its kind, and was also a sea monster from the Old Testament. Knowing such things illuminates Auster’s reasoning behind titling his book as such.

In this tale, Peter Aaron’s friend, Ben Sachs-a once-promising author-accidentally blows himself up along a rural road using a homema
Ian "Marvin" Graye

Fireworks Over Brooklyn

We're at a party in a modern bohemian fourth floor apartment in Brooklyn.

The guests include publishers, writers, artists, film-makers, musicians and various minders, acolytes and drummers disguised as waiters.

It’s July 4, 1981 (or is it 2003 or 2012 or all three, I don't know, the script doesn't say), barely twenty minutes before the fireworks are due to begin.

LYDIA DAVIS (who has just arrived, it’s her second party of t
A great writer was grappling with an ambitious subject, masterfully treated.
First of all, a perfect construction, upside down thriller which gives the dead man's identity and goes back to his story told by his best friend who leads the investigation among the key characters, especially women who were essential to them both, doubles too. The narrator recounts with thoroughness and depth a few years of life in turmoil in this little world of the American intelligentsia of the Reagan years and thei
Jenna is buying a house and mostly too busy for GR ❤ ❀  ❤
Another winner by Paul Auster. I just wish his paragraphs didn't run on for days. ...more
Infada Spain
May 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
That's my kind of book! Beautifully given story of a man's pursuit of identity. Loved it more than I could ever love The New York Trilogy or Invisible (these are the only Paul Auster books I have read)...perhaps, it has to do with the fact that I read the English edition...perhaps, he is one of those writers I enjoy reading in English, but never in Greek! ...more
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you already like Paul Auster, you will definitely enjoy Leviathan, and if you dislike him or have a negative impression of his work, it's unlikely to be the book that will change your mind. This is, in many, many ways, textbook Auster. The author is a self-insert named Peter Aaron, a New-York based writer. The basic set-up isn't too different from that of Invisible: a man does or suffers a terrible thing, and the story consists of his friend, the narrator, looking back on the history of their ...more
Apr 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to figure out what I felt towards to this book or rather a way to articulate it into some sort of coherent review. I should start by saying that Auster changed a lot of my perspectives throughout this book (nah, not revolutionary stuff). Auster delves into these characters so deeply and invests in their habits, attitudes, feelings so much we can't help but forget that it is but a work of fiction but there was so much detail paid to these characters (and what beautiful characte ...more
Mattia Ravasi
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Video review

A veritable dream if you are a fan of mysterious first-person narratives about Terrible Things that Must Be Told before Something Bad Happens. You know - Call of Cthulhu to The Name of the Rose. Not that the plot is pointless - it is thrilling, and peopled with interesting characters - but this is truly more for Forbidden Book and metafictional kids.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Leviathan focuses on the interior world of a writer, Benjamin Sachs, as told by his best friend Peter Aaron (also a writer). The tale is dark, twisty and fascinating. I was in the mood for a dose of Auster and the novel delivered.
Jim Elkins
Nov 23, 2013 added it
Shelves: american
6. A Novel Whose Real Subject is Its Author's Anxiety About Losing Our Attention

This is, by most people's accounts, a minor novel of Auster's, and so it may be a poor choice to raise the question of what drives the work, as opposed to what happens when the writing succeeds. This book has a kind of unremitting literalism in its narrative. In a nearly blank, neutral voice, the narrator tells us dozens of dates, places, and names; it's justified by the notion that this is a book written at speed in
Jan 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
For me the tale did not merit the lengthy narrative, the book within the book seemed contrived and interfered with the tension. I felt it was too much blathering and was in need of editing. Perhaps it's a case of not being able to latch on to either of the main male characters as sympathetic or interesting. The female protagonists started out as more captivating particularly since I'd seen museum exhibits of Sophie Calle and immediately recognized her in Maria but they were reduced to pretty muc ...more
181021: well. i have read 17 books by auster, over the years (decades...), ranging widely in appreciation from great joy to good to ok, so i have decided to do this kind of (meta? mega?) review of what are his apparent concerns, who are his usual characters, his usual world, his usual interpersonal relationships, how the plot will be driven or informed by coincidence, how these are particularly literary works that yes you can read twice or more...

1) in silence, aside from occasional background h
David Sweeney
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
WOW! WOW! WOW! No wonder Siri married him. I really think serious stalking in Brooklyn is a possibility my next trip to New York. I utterly ADORED this book. Complete satisfaction. It is not a very long book but it is incredibly dense and the narrative moves along at a good clip. This is the fourth Paul Auster I have read this year and none have been the same. BUT BUT I strongly suspect that this may not be for everyone. It is almost review proof because you really can't say much about the plot. ...more
Lucas Zurdo
Auster evidently likes his disturbed writer protagonists (both the narrator and his subject in this case), it seems to fit the obsessive, philosophical characters he likes to present. However, he offered lots of opinions on the characters as a way of forcing a full image of them, rather than some more 'show not tell'...Also, some of their features he seemed keen emphasise contradicted each other and took away from the character as a whole.
The actual contents of the plot often jumped around and s
Oct 31, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnfed
Had to read it for a book club I go, but in all honesty, I couldn't get into the book. Slow, tedious, uninteresting. Didn't enjoy the prose or the characters.
Ended up flipping pages and finally stoppes reading almost at half the book.
Definitely, not for me.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
more like a 2.5

more often than not, if i want to give a book less than 4 stars, I shouldn't be rating it because I'm not the intended audience - it's why I didn't rate the handmaid's tale, and why I put many other books down that i won't post about; there's no point - why would you want to read about my opinion if i don't enjoy the very essence of a book?

but i'm pretty sure i'm the intended audience for this - it's literary crime with a stunning concept. A man blows himself up, and his best fri
Bindu Manoj
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Six days ago, a man blew himself up by the side of a road in Wisconsin,"

thus starts the gripping tale of Benjamin Sachs. There are books that make you cry, ones that make you smile and sometimes laugh, some make you think and a few that refuse to leave your mind. Then there are those rare ones that leave you with a haunting , disturbing feeling that is beyond any definition. And this is one of those rare ones.

As soon as author Paul Aaron catches the news item in The New York Times, he is absolu
I love Auster, and "The New York Trilogy" is probably up there in my top ten books. But "Leviathan" left me deeply unsatisfied. Overall, the structure did not work for me, and while some of the themes and tropes are vintage Auster this time they didn't coalesce.

There was a lot in here, as Sachs trashes one part of his life after another in some search of who-knows-what (success? identity? self-respect?) that just felt repetitive and monotonous. It's not that Sachs is unlikable, but something wo
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I think a good rubric for determining how much you enjoy a novel should be assessed after you close the book. I found this readable, but as soon as I put it down, I didn't give fuckall about the any of the characters. In fact some of them perturbed me bordering on disgust. And not in a slimy, well written Patrick Bateman sort of way either. I just really didn't care.

And honestly, how can you write a book about random events and the strange interconnectivity of our lives and introduce every scene
Jeff Sorensen
Apr 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I always mistakenly think this was the first book I ever read by Paul Auster. It wasn't. Moon Palace was. I do remember reading an advance copy of this that I pulled off the shelves of the publisher I worked for at the time. It felt like I was stealing, though he wouldn't have cared, and couldn't have ever known I did that unless I told him. By chance, the day I placed it back on the shelf, the publisher gave it & that Sun & Moon Press book The Art of Hunger to one of the staff members to review ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Leviathan, Auster portrays the American artistic and political counterculture of the eighties through vividly defined characters, specially Ben Sachs. Its hard to encapsulate this book into any genre because although it acts like a thriller, the argumental weight is not placed on a singular dreadful event but rather on the relationships between the characters, specially during the first part of the book.
The developement of the argument is so thrilling and tangled that it gives the reader lit
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another deliciously entertaining ouroboros of a novel. The hallmarks of Auster's fiction are all in great supply: noir sleuthing, mysterious bombings, life-imitating-art-imitating-life, strange coincidences, meditations on the slipperiness of truth. Let's face it, every Auster novel should be called the Music of Chance, except the Music of Chance, which should be called Thursdays with Mitzy. ...more
Ileana Cartagena
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
«If it still shocks me to report what happened, that is because the real is always ahead of what we can imagine. No matter how wild we think our inventions might be, they can never match the unpredictability of what the real world continually spews forth. This lesson seems inescapable to me now. Anything can happen. And one way or another, it always does.»
[p. 180]
Dec 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021, favourite, auster
I love Paul Auster novels and his are quite simply always my most favorite books to read. I can’t explain it other than by saying that I can sit down and read a large portion of his books at once. The words travel effortlessly from the page to my brain and I just love everything about how his novels are crafted from the characters to the pacing and word choice... everything.

“No one can say where a book comes from, least of all the person who writes it. Books are born of ignorance, and if they g
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A man dies, his friend recollects their entire relationship, from their first unlikely meeting to their last, sadly unlikely as well, encounter. This is the entire novel in a nutshell: a straightforward story, yet a "human, all too human" kind of story. As we progress through Peter Aaron's (if you're familiar with Auster, his character, along with Benjamin Sachs, will be pretty easy to identitify) memories, we begin to feel his heartfelt friendship with his good soldier///friend, to the point th ...more
Moshe Mikanovsky
At times I liked it, and other times I was perplexed by it, thus the 3 stars. The main thing that stricken me is how relevant the story and the mirror of American society is to our days. It is not a mystery book, as one might think from the back blurb. Rather a friendship story and reflection on circumstances that put people together and how they affects the results of one’s life.
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this book cover to cover in a single day. Auster is a genius. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mount-tbr-2018
I just love Paul Auster.
And to think, I discovered him in the Denver airport, when I needed a book to read on the next leg of a flight.
Auster’s novels are like Matryoshka dolls, & are best read in as few sittings as possible. He casts a spell, & you don’t want to break it.
Here, he tells the unraveling of a man from novelist & husband to roaming terrorist, from his best friend’s perspective over 20 years. You can’t put it down. So go pick it up.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please add a page count 2 11 Mar 15, 2021 05:10AM  
LEVIATANO 2 7 Oct 28, 2016 11:10AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Paul Auster: Moon Palace
  • What I Loved
  • Was rot war
  • Los catorce cuadernos
  • The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy
  • Yalnızız
  • Nightmare in Berlin
  • Solenoid
  • Summertime
  • I Spit on Your Graves (Vernon Sullivan, #1)
  • Il gatto
  • Η σκιά του ευνούχου
  • Squeeze Play
  • La verdad sobre el caso Savolta
  • When I Was Mortal
  • The Rainbow Stories
  • Call If You Need Me: The Uncollected Fiction and Other Prose
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Paul Auster is the bestselling author of Report from the Interior, Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Invisible, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. He has been awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature, the Prix Médicis Étranger, the Independent Spirit Award, and the Premio Napoli. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Ac ...more

Related Articles

You might know comedian Colin Jost from his work as the co-anchor of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, or perhaps you know him as Scarlett...
136 likes · 49 comments
“Nadie puede decir de dónde proviene un libro, y menos que nadie la persona que lo escribe. Los libros nacen de la ignorancia , y si continúan viviendo después de escritos es sólo en la medidad en que no pueden entenderse.” 5 likes
“Once you turn against yourself, it’s hard not to believe that everyone else is against you, too” 4 likes
More quotes…