Review: Trust, by Hernan Diaz
All right folks, it's happening - we are starting to get into prize season! The longlist for the 2022 Booker Prize was announced on July 26th, and I am once again this year reading my way through all the nominees, one month at a time (sidenote, but I am particularly excited about this year's longlist - there's a real breadth of genre and narrative that can sometimes be lacking in prize longlists). First up: Trust, by Hernan Diaz.
This is a hard book to characterize, as it doesn't fit super neatly in any one genre or category or story type. In fact, it's almost a meta-novel: it's told in four separate parts, and the story is basically about the relationship between a fictional New York financier (Andrew Bevel), his wife (Mildred Bevel), and a controversial novel published in 1920s New York that seems to basically accuse them of engineering and causing the crash of 1929. The different parts of the book each build on this central premise, telling a multi-layered story of who gets to choose the truth that gets told, how money impacts so much of society sight unseen, and - of course, because this is a Booker nom - the unfair silencing and sidelining of women.
My good reader(s?), I absolutely adored this book. It's entirely, compulsively readable, which might make it seem facile at first read, but as I got further and further into the book I was just blown away by how tightly and impressively Diaz controls his craft in order to make such an impressive narrative so easy to read. And the way the ripple effects from the main "reveal" trickle throughout the entire book, in all directions, and impacts all the characters in broad and subtle ways is so masterfully done, it actually left me speechless in some passages. Diaz gives his reader a lot of space and time to think about his narrative while never making anything insultingly obvious; the respect Diaz has for his reader is very clear and reminds me a lot of the way Dorothy Dunnett does the same thing in the House of Niccoló series.
The craft in this novel could almost surpass the excellence of the characters and the story itself, but it all comes together in a really enjoyable puzzle of a book. The characters, each at the center of one of the four parts, are beautifully well-written and almost frighteningly real: I had absolutely no difficulty in believing that these were real people who were linked across the different parts of the story. And the story itself was so gripping, so compulsively readable, that I found myself sitting absolutely still for hours on end so I could find out how the puzzle pieces and layers of the meta-novel all fit together. And that final reveal was simultaneously so good and so unexpected, and yet fit so completely in with the rest of the book, that I was both blown away by it and also slightly disappointed at myself for not having picked up on it earlier.
All told, I highly, highly, highly recommend this book and think it would be a perfect place to start for anybody who wants to throw themselves into the Booker longlist reading.