The Man Who Saw Everything
Saul Adler's world is made up of car crashes, camera lenses, jaguars, tinned pineapple and the Beatles. His mother, a Holocaust survivor, died when he was a child, and his father, a Communist, was always a cold and heavy hand. What marks Saul Adler is not his Jewishness or even the tragedy of his life, but his almost freakish beauty, one that draws gazes, lenses and surveillance of every kind. A young professor, Saul is researching cultural resistance to Nazism, which brings him to East Germany in 1988, on the eve of the country's dissolution. After a breakup and an accident on Abbey Road days before his trip, Saul arrives, wounded and heartsick, in the country that was the birthplace of his mother and the materialization of his father's ideology.
For Saul, the accident on Abbey Road and his time in the German Democratic Republic become a confluence of events that orient the rest of his life. The Man Who Saw Everything is bifurcated into two time periods: 1988 and 2016, but by Deborah Levy's deft hand and brilliant command of metaphor, the boundaries of space and time collapse. This is an extraordinary novel that captures the zeitgeist and specters of 20th-century Communism in such a way that far exceeds the 200 pages it is bound in. As Saul attempts to free himself from the strictures of history, fatherhood and fatherland, two-time Booker finalist Deborah Levy (Hot Milk; Swimming Home) cements herself as one of the 21st century's most crucial novelists. --Emma Levy, publishing assistant, Shelf Awareness