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Trust

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From an award-winning chronicler of our nation's history and its legends comes his much-anticipated novel about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric arist From an award-winning chronicler of our nation's history and its legends comes his much-anticipated novel about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth. But the secrets around their affluence and grandeur incites gossip. Rumors about Benjamin's financial maneuvers and Helen's reclusiveness start to spread--all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. At what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of a successful 1938 novel entitled Bonds, which all of New York seems to have read. But it isn't the only version. Hernan Diaz's Trust brilliantly puts the story of these characters into conversation with other accounts--and in tension with the life and perspective of a young woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that becomes more exhilarating and profound with each new layer and revelation. Provocative and propulsive, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the reality-warping gravitational pull of money and how power often manipulates facts. An elegant, multifaceted epic that recovers the voices buried under the myths that justify our foundational inequality, Trust is a literary triumph with a beating heart and urgent stakes.


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From an award-winning chronicler of our nation's history and its legends comes his much-anticipated novel about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric arist From an award-winning chronicler of our nation's history and its legends comes his much-anticipated novel about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the brilliant daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth. But the secrets around their affluence and grandeur incites gossip. Rumors about Benjamin's financial maneuvers and Helen's reclusiveness start to spread--all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. At what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of a successful 1938 novel entitled Bonds, which all of New York seems to have read. But it isn't the only version. Hernan Diaz's Trust brilliantly puts the story of these characters into conversation with other accounts--and in tension with the life and perspective of a young woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that becomes more exhilarating and profound with each new layer and revelation. Provocative and propulsive, Trust engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the reality-warping gravitational pull of money and how power often manipulates facts. An elegant, multifaceted epic that recovers the voices buried under the myths that justify our foundational inequality, Trust is a literary triumph with a beating heart and urgent stakes.

30 review for Trust

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    Sublime, richly layered novel. A story within a story within a story. Elegantly written. Feels like an homage to Edith Wharton. Truly though, this is just sublime.

  2. 4 out of 5

    David

    Trust holds a lot of promise, but it just didn't work for me. Consisting of four parts - a novel, autobiography, memoir, and journal - each successive entry peels back a layer of the story to ultimately reveal the truth behind the original novel. It sounds great as a premise, and reminds me of Susan Choi's outstanding Trust Exercise, but this is much less successful. The first problem is that the faux novel is just plain silly, with bursts of melodrama and written in a deliberately stylized mann Trust holds a lot of promise, but it just didn't work for me. Consisting of four parts - a novel, autobiography, memoir, and journal - each successive entry peels back a layer of the story to ultimately reveal the truth behind the original novel. It sounds great as a premise, and reminds me of Susan Choi's outstanding Trust Exercise, but this is much less successful. The first problem is that the faux novel is just plain silly, with bursts of melodrama and written in a deliberately stylized manner, like a bad Edith Wharton pastiche, so that no one really cares about the characters or peeling back the layers to the story. Likewise the autobiography. Andrew Bevel is never sympathetic so we aren't surprised by (or care about) later revelations. Showing that a wealthy financier isn't all he's cracked up to be is hardly revelatory. This would have been far more interesting if the first sections presented compelling characters and a myth that readers could get behind, only to strip it away later. Instead, we get 200+ pages of bad prose leading up to an ending we all knew was coming.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sujoya

    4.5⭐ "Most of us prefer to believe we are the active subjects of our victories but only the passive objects of our defeats. We triumph, but it is not really we who fail—we are ruined by forces beyond our control." I’ll admit that I had put this book aside when I first received it a month ago. The subject matter- financial markets, Wall Street tycoon, the crash of 1929- wasn’t pulling me in. But eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I finally cracked it open three days ago and I have be 4.5⭐ "Most of us prefer to believe we are the active subjects of our victories but only the passive objects of our defeats. We triumph, but it is not really we who fail—we are ruined by forces beyond our control." I’ll admit that I had put this book aside when I first received it a month ago. The subject matter- financial markets, Wall Street tycoon, the crash of 1929- wasn’t pulling me in. But eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I finally cracked it open three days ago and I have been immersed in it ever since. This is a book that takes time and patience. I did put it down a few times – not because I lost interest but because I needed to take a pause and absorb what I was reading. In general, I enjoy meta fiction when it is done right and Hernan Diaz takes meta fiction to a different level altogether with “Trust”. It is hard to summarise this book without giving too much away. The plot revolves around a successful financier (and his wife) who not only survived the crash of 1929 but thrived and added to their wealth through well-timed investment decisions. He attributes his success to his strong intuitive capabilities, intense research and his acute understanding of the financial world. Needless to say, reaping profits in an era wherein the economy collapsed and investors and businesses lost substantial amounts of money, does invite questions and conjecture directed towards his investment practices, even inspiring fiction based on the life and times of said person with distorted facts and whole a lot of speculation. Now how does one protect his image and manage public perception? Who is he trying to convince? – Those in his close circle? Business associates? Family members? Himself? “Trust” is a complex, layered novel divided into four parts- four distinct narrative styles in four distinct voices. This novel is composed of four intricately woven novels/segments - each presenting a different perspective on the events center to the plot - a work of fiction inspired by the main character and his wife, an incomplete draft of an autobiography written by the egotistical protagonist, a memoir written by the young woman hired by the main character as his biographer and the final segment is a part of the diary of the financier’s late wife. As the narrative progresses, and the line between fact and fiction gets blurred, which version of the events and the people involved rings true? Whose version can you trust? With its unique structure, elegant writing, interesting characters (even the immensely unlikable protagonist) and the 1920s setting, Hernan Diaz’s Trust is a sharp, compelling and creative work of fiction. The first part of the novel does not quite give the reader an idea of the complexity and the intrigue of the plot that lies ahead. The final two parts of the novel were my favorite and the most absorbing part(s) of the book. I will definitely be looking out for more from this author. “Every life is organized around a small number of events that either propel us or bring us to a grinding halt. We spend the years between these episodes benefiting or suffering from their consequences until the arrival of the next forceful moment.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    This brilliant metafiction book is about a lot of things, but among the most prominent is the bending and aligning of reality according to one’s mistakes so it ceases to be a mistake. What are the fictions that compose our identity? Or do our lives eventually become the written and verbal fictions that others craft? Since I am an early reader, I had the joy of discovering the alchemy created by Hernan Diaz without any advance knowledge or perceptions. In this review, I’m going to try hard to ensu This brilliant metafiction book is about a lot of things, but among the most prominent is the bending and aligning of reality according to one’s mistakes so it ceases to be a mistake. What are the fictions that compose our identity? Or do our lives eventually become the written and verbal fictions that others craft? Since I am an early reader, I had the joy of discovering the alchemy created by Hernan Diaz without any advance knowledge or perceptions. In this review, I’m going to try hard to ensure that others are equally spellbound by some of the more intriguing shifts. At the start, the author pays evident homage to Edith Wharton in his presentation of the legendary financier Benjamin Rask. In unadorned but elegant prose, we learn the story of Rask’s ascension to the economic stratosphere (of course, it didn’t hurt that he was born into family money) and the influence of his wife, Helen, who hails from a family of old money that is now in a precarious state. So convincing is that portrayal that I actually Googled this couple, and when the results proved lacking, I refreshed and googled again. For nearly 100 pages, we are immersed in their compelling story but I have to admit I thought, “Okay, good writing that’s rather evocative. But what’s the big deal?” The “big deal” is revealed through the next three sections – revealed in a novel-within-a-novel, an unfinished manuscript, a memoir, and finally a diary – as other narrators take the stage. As layer upon layer is added, we view the first 100 pages with whole new eyes. Who the narrators are – and what is revealed – is for the reader to discover. Certain themes and motifs begin to repeat. One surrounds the allure of money: is it merely a fiction – a dirty stack of bills that we use as a measure to value all other commodities? Does that then make finance capital a fiction of a fiction? Or is it the god of commodities and the foundation of making all things possible? For those (to coin Thomas Wolfe) “masters of the universe”, how do we separate the ever-present myths from the realities? Where do the women who stand with them fit in? Why force women into stereotypes , putting them in their place for the purpose of providing a better story of themselves for history? And finally, are we all complicit in the stories we create if the price is high enough? The more I consider this novel, the more blown away I am with it. It is an exhilarating read that goes to the very core of distinguishing fact from fiction. I owe a debt of gratitude to Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for providing me with the privilege of being an advance reader in exchange for an honest review. I’ve no doubt this book will make my Top Ten this year.

  5. 5 out of 5

    lark benobi

    On the upside, I learned the word "dipsomania." I went into the novel with huge stores of leftover goodwill from reading In the Distance. I also loved the idea of reading multiple rashomon-like reveals and revelations, and I read along in the beginning with great anticipation, and tried to retain my interest long enough to get to the next passage or sentence or anything at all that might remind me of how much I loved Díaz's debut... But there were longer and longer interludes between the sparkly p On the upside, I learned the word "dipsomania." I went into the novel with huge stores of leftover goodwill from reading In the Distance. I also loved the idea of reading multiple rashomon-like reveals and revelations, and I read along in the beginning with great anticipation, and tried to retain my interest long enough to get to the next passage or sentence or anything at all that might remind me of how much I loved Díaz's debut... But there were longer and longer interludes between the sparkly places. In the end I was dragged down by the dull-sludge sections, and unable to make more excuses for this novel and its disappointments. The novel's conceit relies on the first section, Bonds, being a novel that I can imagine people wanting to read in 1938. I couldn't imagine it. It feels fusty and restrained and underdone. It has no sustained emotional depth. It reads more like a long encyclopedia entry about the Rasks. I didn't believe it was interesting or important or revealing enough to be a novel that the 'real' Benjamin Rask, Andrew Bevel, would bother to care about. But the section that disappointed me most was the last section, where we get scraps of Mildred Bevel's diary. I'd held onto the hope that in this last part the novel would finally break out of the intellectual straightjacket Díaz had forced his writing to conform to. I fully expected the novel would finally lift itself out of the mundane slog, and into something revelatory, and beautiful--but instead it just flopped around, like a fish drowning in air, and died.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ron Charles

    Hernan Diaz’s new book, “Trust,” is about an early-20th-century investor. Or at least it seems to be. Everything about this cunning story makes a mockery of its title. The only certainty here is Diaz’s brilliance and the value of his rewarding book. Though framed as a novel, “Trust” is actually an intricately constructed quartet of stories — what Wall Street traders would call a 4-for-1 stock split. The first part is a novella titled “Bonds,” presented as the work by a now forgotten writer in the Hernan Diaz’s new book, “Trust,” is about an early-20th-century investor. Or at least it seems to be. Everything about this cunning story makes a mockery of its title. The only certainty here is Diaz’s brilliance and the value of his rewarding book. Though framed as a novel, “Trust” is actually an intricately constructed quartet of stories — what Wall Street traders would call a 4-for-1 stock split. The first part is a novella titled “Bonds,” presented as the work by a now forgotten writer in the 1930s named Harold Vanner. A pastiche of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s and Edith Wharton’s fiction, the story luxuriates in the tragic fate of America’s wealthiest man, Benjamin Rask. The opening line immediately signals the narrator’s mingled awe and reproof: “Because he had enjoyed almost every advantage since birth, one of the few privileges denied to Benjamin Rask was that of a heroic rise.” Diaz, writing as Vanner, spins the legend of an icy, isolated young man who quickly masters the levers of finance to transform his “respectable inheritance” into an unimaginably large estate. “His colleagues thought him. . . . To read the rest of this review, go to The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/books/...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    I’ve spent too many on and off days returning to this book - reading and re-reading - Then forgetting what I read - Knowing I had three weeks before the library would snatch it up - I kept trying to return to it when my mind & mood were aligned… but I kept failing - it might be a fantastic book -I trust the readers who found positive value — I even admire the author — But I’m tossing in the towel - read most of it. Did some skimming - I won’t rate it. I just didn’t have my own full commitment in I’ve spent too many on and off days returning to this book - reading and re-reading - Then forgetting what I read - Knowing I had three weeks before the library would snatch it up - I kept trying to return to it when my mind & mood were aligned… but I kept failing - it might be a fantastic book -I trust the readers who found positive value — I even admire the author — But I’m tossing in the towel - read most of it. Did some skimming - I won’t rate it. I just didn’t have my own full commitment in enough to give the book an honest rating one way or another. The struggles were my own.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5 New release for tomorrow, May 3rd, in the US A smart twist on story and narrative, conceptually similar to Trust Exercise, by Susan Choi, but focused on a very different slice of society - wealthy NYC. Fun and well-written, but with cold characters. I could’ve used a bit more emotion to engage me. But the author’s playful use of manipulation makes this reading experience a work of art. Thank you to Riverhead Books and The Strand for the advanced copy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Olive Fellows (abookolive)

    Bonds, futures, and securities: these products within the financial world practically offer themselves up to double entendres. In an interpersonal relationship, these words imply closeness, vows, maybe even love. On Wall Street, they mean investments, strategy, and cold hard cash. But however disparate the worlds of matrimony and finance may be, there is overlap. Both involve expectations and obligations. There is partnership. There is risk. At the center of that Venn diagram sits “Trust,” the i Bonds, futures, and securities: these products within the financial world practically offer themselves up to double entendres. In an interpersonal relationship, these words imply closeness, vows, maybe even love. On Wall Street, they mean investments, strategy, and cold hard cash. But however disparate the worlds of matrimony and finance may be, there is overlap. Both involve expectations and obligations. There is partnership. There is risk. At the center of that Venn diagram sits “Trust,” the intellectual new historical novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Hernan Diaz. It’s a book that presents the myths and realities of a fictional power couple who actually made money when the stock market crashed in 1929. Click here to read the rest of my review in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    I love narratives about narratives, stories within stories, and TRUST is an excellent example of the genre that is also one of the most straightforward. I know some readers dislike a feeling of manipulation or bait and switch when they find one narrative to contradict the other, but while those things happen in this book, the book also isn't interested in pulling the rug. It is quite clear about what each section is, and it illuminates as you go. I do want to provide one important note: it was a I love narratives about narratives, stories within stories, and TRUST is an excellent example of the genre that is also one of the most straightforward. I know some readers dislike a feeling of manipulation or bait and switch when they find one narrative to contradict the other, but while those things happen in this book, the book also isn't interested in pulling the rug. It is quite clear about what each section is, and it illuminates as you go. I do want to provide one important note: it was a good thing I saw the accolades for this before I started because at first I wasn't sure what the big deal was and it's very possible I would have put it down. The first part does feel rather like Wharton, a story of a prestigious and tragic wealthy family in New York. The second part had me once again going back to confirm that everyone loved this book, because I was immediately wrinkling my nose at the tedious, self-involved memoir of a man in finance, who bore a strong resemblance to the man in the first story. But I powered through and I wanted to let you know that you will be rewarded for doing so. The second part is supposed to be that grating and it will be worth getting through it. I admit that I do not read many books by cis men these days (my excuse is hilariously the same excuse of the many cis men who read almost entirely cis men--that I let my interests guide my reading) and when I do I have noticed more books with female protagonists as they begin to reckon with patriarchy, though sometimes it is just acknowledging rather than reckoning. This frustrates me more than it pleases me. Plenty of women write about women like this, it is unclear what these men are contributing or what they're trying to say. I would much rather see men grapple with their role in patriarchy directly, but I rarely do. And then this book came along. It is a book about capitalism, the financial system, and wealth, but it is also a story about how men become the heroes of these stories. This book is very smart in how it engages with patriarchy and misogyny, showing us not just the wealthy exploiting the work and care of women. It also uses the voices of men and, ultimately, women as well. The echo of a man telling a woman's story put up against the work women do to tell men's stories bounce back and forth off each other like two mirrors held parallel. I was so satisfied by the end, this is exactly the kind of interesting writing that I have been wanting but mostly not getting from men writing literary fiction. Not a puzzle box, really (after all, the table of contents tells you the four parts and their authors) but still giving you the pleasures of new context making the story deeper and richer as you go. There were some elements of the final section that were too clear for my liking, I would have liked them weaved in in a way that fit the rest of the prose and style. Felt a bit clunky for how expertly done the rest is. But that is also me being a devoted reader of puzzle box stories looking for subtlety and surprise. By the final section you already suspect what you will read, so it is not really a surprise after all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Do not let the first part of this deter you. It sets up the pleasures yet to come. A novel within a novel with a memoir added to that. Wealth, money markets, relationships and the twisting of reality propels the narrative. Simply stated, this is enigmatic and elegant.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Suite

    OH EM GEE. I’m begging you to stick it out with this one. Pleading. It pays off, I promise you. When Part 3 hits and the narrative begins to morph into what this story truly is, DAMN. A masterful novel on the powers of perception, wealth, privilege, clout, and manipulation. This is a complete 180 from my lover “In the Distance” (his debut) and that was a boss move. Yup, Diaz cemented his place as one of my all-time fave writers. Man has got range. Woof. More to come.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    This is a tale which bridges two cultures (art/literature and high finance), but which is very much a book of two halves (the first almost deliberately weak, the second intriguing) and which left me in two minds (hence my rating – a mix of a 4*+ concept and a 2* execution). CP Snow famously wrote an article/lecture/essay book on the chasm that had opened between the cultures of arts and science – in my view (and as someone with a foot in both camps) there is a similar divide now between the world This is a tale which bridges two cultures (art/literature and high finance), but which is very much a book of two halves (the first almost deliberately weak, the second intriguing) and which left me in two minds (hence my rating – a mix of a 4*+ concept and a 2* execution). CP Snow famously wrote an article/lecture/essay book on the chasm that had opened between the cultures of arts and science – in my view (and as someone with a foot in both camps) there is a similar divide now between the worlds of literary fiction and finance. If you can find someone in finance who reads they are likely to read non-fiction books with possible some genre fiction – and similarly few literary fiction books even cover finance. Of those that do many seem to misunderstand it (for example confusing the direction of interest rate change impacts) – and even my book of 2022 Natasha Brown’s “Assembly” uses banking as a canvass on which to focus a social mobility/meritocracy lens on the topic of colonialism and its lasting impacts (we do not know what job the unnamed narrator does for her bank – just her seniority). So I welcome this book’s explicit aim to address that divide and to provide a literary exploration of capital, investment and banking and via one dictionary definition of the title. The author has further stated his aim as examining and deconstructing one of the foundational myths/classic American narratives of American society (the role of free market capitalism and the investment markets and particularly the self-made wealthy entrepreneur) in the same way that his first novel “In The Distance” did with the Western. At the same time the author wanted to examine the other definition of Trust and in particular the idea of the trust that it is implicit in fiction and reading “Reading is always an act of trust. Whenever we read anything, from a novel to the label on a prescription bottle, trust is involved. That trust is based on tacit contracts whose clauses I wanted to encourage the reader to reconsider. As you read Trust and move forward from one section to the next, it becomes clear that the book is asking you to question the assumptions with which you walk into a text.” Because this is a book written in four very different parts – each with a different writer, a different narrative voice, a different style and a different purpose. The Washington Post and leading Goodreads reviewer Ron Charles in his review says this quartet of very different stories is “what Wall Street Traders would call a 4-for-1 stock split” – thus illustrating perfectly my contended literature/finance divide, given that split into four identical parts is almost the exact opposite to what Diaz does. Interesting though I think some form of more identical split would have worked much better here (see later). The book starts with around a 100 page pastiche of (or possibly tribute to) Edith Wharton and her fiction which not only documented the Gilded Age of America but which was towards the end of the literary realism movement – a novel called “Bonds” by Harold Vanner which tells the story of a Wall Street banker/trader/tycoon Benjamin Rask – his taking advantage of the 1920s bull market and then his more controversial role in the 1929 Crash; alongside the story of his art patron/philanthropist wife Helen and her mental instability and treatment for that in Europe. The second section is around a 100 page pastiche (and in this case definitely not a tribute to) the self-aggrandising (if unfinished) business autobiography of a Wall Street banker/trader/tycoon Andrew Revel – his role in growing the nation’s prosperity by helping the 1920s bull market and then his saddened realisation that speculation had driven the market too high leading him to evade the 1929 Crash; alongside the story of his art patron/philanthropist late-wife Mildred and her emotional and mental stability ahead of her treatment for cancer in Europe. The third section (and easily the strongest of the book) is written by Ida Partenza – the daughter of an Italian anarchist effectively in America as a political refugee – she is hired by Revel to write the second part of the novel as a counterbalance to the sensationalist impact of the first (which he and everyone else regards as his lightly fictionalised biography). While researching the book (to the limited permitted by Revel who wishes to tightly control the narrative) Ida finds that neither Vanner or Revel’s portrayal of Mildred seems to meet the complexity of her character but is unable to discover the true Mildred. Parts of this section are narrated closer to our present day as the now elderly Ida visits a museum made of the Revel home (where she wrote her book) and explores the archives. The fourth and shortest part of the book (albeit still much stronger than the first two) is Ida’s final discovery – a very fragmentary diary written by Mildred before her death, while being treated in Europe, which contains a revelation as to the real story of Revel (and his roles in both the bull market and crash) which to be honest has been pretty easy to guess from the beginning. As I have implied this is a book of two halves – the first two sections for me were very weak although mercifully easy to skip through at a quick pace, as my brother’s review says “there is barely a word that is not wasted”. In the first section in particular I started writing down passages and turns of phrase that annoyed me before deciding to go for the pastiche rather than tribute option. What I was less clear on was the author’s decision to lead with the entirety of the two sections rather than having the four sections interleaved through the novel. I believe the aim was to draw the reader into each story and to the world it posits before revealing another layer of the story – but neither for me was sufficiently well written to draw me in so spoiling the effect. Further there are by now myriad mainstream media and Goodreads reviews which make the set up of the first two parts (as revealed in the third) clear which also negated any impact of revelation – and in some ways that is anyway to the book’s benefits as I think many modern readers taking the first section (at least) on face value may well have bailed. I am sure there is a point for this – as the book itself says “the worst literature, my father would say, is always written with the best intentions”. The obviousness of the “reveal” in the fourth section I can live with better – as the book seems to strongly signpost this by discussing (on two separate but importantly linked occasions) someone recounting a detective style novel and someone else (older or wiser) having to effectively pretend that the reveal of the murderer is a surprise. There is though a lot to like in the novel in terms of its concept – both at a macro and more micro level. On the overall level I liked (while not thinking it entirely worked) the ideas of linking the sustained and collective illusion (or perhaps collective decision to place collective faith in a narrative) that lies behind not just fictional stories themselves, but non-fictional accounts, behind national (and national identity) stories, behind political movements and also behind financial markets. On the micro level I enjoyed for example: the exploration of the marginalisation of (and even worse co-opting or blatant stealing of) female voices and ideas; the idea that a blend of human psychology with mathematical analysis is key to investment success (and it reminded me of the intersection of art-empathy-gut call & data-science-hard facts at the heart of commercial insurance underwriting); the fragmentary ideas in the fourth section about the transition from literary realism to literary modernism (and its equivalent in music). My thanks to Panmacmillan for an ARC via NetGalley

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    My review for Astra Magazine: https://astra-mag.com/articles/concre... My review for Astra Magazine: https://astra-mag.com/articles/concre...

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    Stocks, shares and all that garbage are just claims to a future value. So if money is fiction, finance capital is the fiction of a fiction. That's what all those criminals trade in: fictions... Money is at the core of it all. An illusion we've all agreed to support. Unanimously. This is such a smart book, and smart in all kinds of ways. The central trope draws parallels between capitalism, especially financial instruments, and fiction - and those images and ideas proliferate throughou Stocks, shares and all that garbage are just claims to a future value. So if money is fiction, finance capital is the fiction of a fiction. That's what all those criminals trade in: fictions... Money is at the core of it all. An illusion we've all agreed to support. Unanimously. This is such a smart book, and smart in all kinds of ways. The central trope draws parallels between capitalism, especially financial instruments, and fiction - and those images and ideas proliferate throughout the book. Along the way we have a central story that gets undermined, inverted and investigated through connected texts; we have assertions about the representation of gender in writing and the worn-out conventions that imprison women within certain comfortable roles; and we get a host of literary references and allusions from Henry James and Edith Wharton, to Woolf and Barrett Browning, to Plath ('a bell in a bell jar won't ring') and even Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me. Diaz is especially concerned with American-based capitalism with the Wall Street setting and the accusation of wealth built upon slavery but the points transfer all too easily beyond the US. It's worth noting, too, the skill with which he captures the tones of the various texts that comprise the book: the nineteenth-century pastiche of the inset novel, the fragmented autobiography of a man determined to impose his own view on reality, the voice of a young female Italian-American from a lower class and anarchist family; the diary that finally gives a voice to the contested wife at the heart of the story who holds a secret - albeit, a ventriloquized voice, as they all are, written by a man. For all the dizzying layers, this is a fast read with a page-turner appeal that lies alongside its more pressing ideas. Huge fun while also being serious in a core politicised way. Many thanks to Picador for an ARC via NetGalley

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Doherty

    Elegant and deeply researched; historical fiction I kept wanting to confirm wasn't actually based on true events for how sharply the characters/story is drawn. It's a story within a story, a mystery embedded within power and influence, and how we shouldn't trust a book, or a person, by its cover. I was drawn into each reflection of a character's shadowy past, to only see how it reflected on their contemporary choices. It all deftly illustrates why Diaz's writing is so highly sought after. Galley Elegant and deeply researched; historical fiction I kept wanting to confirm wasn't actually based on true events for how sharply the characters/story is drawn. It's a story within a story, a mystery embedded within power and influence, and how we shouldn't trust a book, or a person, by its cover. I was drawn into each reflection of a character's shadowy past, to only see how it reflected on their contemporary choices. It all deftly illustrates why Diaz's writing is so highly sought after. Galley borrowed from the publisher.

  17. 4 out of 5

    switterbug (Betsey)

    Days of Futures Past From the first page, I was consumed, all in, content for the narrative to take me away wherever it went. I just felt this “trust,” or alignment with the author. The author who rose above the four narratives of this book, the four stories by men and women that are the sum of the parts that give us the whole. Fact and fiction overlap, and through these stories, the poignant truths have a way of appearing and resting in repose. It opens with a novel within the novel—a story ca Days of Futures Past From the first page, I was consumed, all in, content for the narrative to take me away wherever it went. I just felt this “trust,” or alignment with the author. The author who rose above the four narratives of this book, the four stories by men and women that are the sum of the parts that give us the whole. Fact and fiction overlap, and through these stories, the poignant truths have a way of appearing and resting in repose. It opens with a novel within the novel—a story called BONDS, by Harrold Vanner, written in 1937, in third person, about an early 20th century financier, one of those masters of the universe, Benjamin Rask, and his wife, Helen. Benjamin is wildly successful and Helen was a quiet woman who spent her time with cultural patronage, such as writers and musicians/composers. Andrew Bevel’s incomplete autobiography comes next, in MY LIFE (the second narrative). The third narrative is Ida Partenza’s memoir, and reveals how she is hired by Bevel to write his story. She’s a future published writer, daughter of an anarchist Italian immigrant, hired to help shape and write Bevel’s story. Bevel is widowed now, and wishes to set straight the story of his success, as well as his wife's quiet and “feminine” support and cultural benefaction. The way he expects Ida to capture it is almost mythical. In fact, these captains of industry and finance are practically mythological creatures themselves. After all—how does one man manage to control, move, and manipulate the market for “the common good” of all people? “Short selling is folding back time. The past making itself present in the future.” I won’t give spoilers, so I will circumvent trails that set upon the plot and path. But it was one of the most unusual designs/architecture of a story I have ever read. The underwhelming denouement is only a disappointment for a minute, because Diaz’ writing, themes, and emotional truth is what captivated me all along. The Bonds story evokes an Edith Wharton style and tone, matching the era that Benjamin Rask rose to power, the calm precision of sentences, the ambiguity we associate with artistic prose. As Ida describes, the writing “existed in a vague space between the intellectual and the emotional…Lucidity…is the best hiding space for deeper meaning---much like a transparent thing stacked between others.” Like much in this book, the reader will get the sense that the mysteries are hiding in plain sight. Or, as Andrew tells Ida: “If I’m ever wrong, I must make use of all my means and resources to bend and align reality according to my mistake so that it ceases to be a mistake.” Ida believed that Vanner’s presentation of Helen was largely illusory, and that Andrew Bevel’s version of Mildred was as equally deceptive, perhaps even sinister in its veil. Men taking charge of depicting their wives. Ida often hit Bevel’s nerve by suggesting clarity during his dictation to her. She also supposed that within the pages of both men’s narratives, the truth quivered. She just needed to probe, poke, prod, peer through the embellishments and reductions until the truth manifested itself. Diaz writes with such luster, refinement, and temperate ambiguity (when fitting) that I was riveted to the story. “…I’ve come to think one is truly married only when one is more committed to one’s vows than the person they refer to.” The magic of his writing blew me away, the ongoing paradoxes, his head above at all times, a dignity of prose that’s both natural and poised. “Can you believe it? The imaginary events in that piece of fiction now have a stronger presence in the real world than the actual facts of my life.” This one will surely make my top books of the year.

  18. 5 out of 5

    David

    Let me tell you what I wish I’d known When I was young and dreamed of glory: You have no control who lives, who dies Who tells your story.* These words were frequently on my mind as I wended my way through this literary Relational Puzzle. Using four textual forms (novella, manuscript outline, memoir, and diary), Diaz explores the lives of three protagonists, all of whom must come to terms with the inherent truth of this lyric. And in doing so, Diaz goes all-in stylistically. The novella is atmospheri Let me tell you what I wish I’d known When I was young and dreamed of glory: You have no control who lives, who dies Who tells your story.* These words were frequently on my mind as I wended my way through this literary Relational Puzzle. Using four textual forms (novella, manuscript outline, memoir, and diary), Diaz explores the lives of three protagonists, all of whom must come to terms with the inherent truth of this lyric. And in doing so, Diaz goes all-in stylistically. The novella is atmospheric, mannered, and self-consciously fictional. The manuscript is dry as a bone and soporific. The terminal diary is precise, personal, and abbreviated. (I suspect that neither of these latter two would be very tolerable on audiobook.). But the memoir, the third and most accessible and interesting section, ties them all together and makes the less stimulating portions worth the effort. It is Diaz’s best work. The novel as a whole deals with several major themes: Money, Power, Gender, Class, Politics. And it does so both directly and obliquely. It becomes clear where the author’s sensibilities lie, but he is able to incorporate various moral messages without first mounting a soapbox. The quiet promotion of feminism, charitable giving, cultural diversity, truth in advertising, public library access, and support for the Arts made the book more enjoyable for me. As things progress, descriptions of the stock market madness of The Roaring Twenties evoke today’s global trading frenzy, itself facilitated by easy access to risky assets by an often gullible public. Margin calls, hedges on inflation, manipulation of share price (hello, Gamestop!) - even short-selling one’s own major holdings - are all featured here. Ditto gender “politics” and the imbalance that persists. By including Ida’s immigrant, anarchist father and ambitious, untalented boyfriend in her story, Diaz casually reveals that she is viewed as less-than by all men, not just those who are wealthy, American-born, and personally unrelated. And the layers continue. Ostensibly the tale of a pedigreed titan of finance and his struggle to protect a mythic image in perpetuity, this is really all about where true greatness lies, whether or not it is recognized and appreciated by the world at large. I found it intellectually compelling, well-researched, entertaining, and thought-provoking. There are friends whose opinions I respect who did not have similar experiences. For me, though, this proved to be an excellent return on investment. 4.5 stars *Lin-Manuel Miranda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I was bored by the beginning of this book. The family and business history of a fictional tycoon just didn’t grab me. But I’m glad that I hung on to the end. I think I might change the title of the book to “Truth”, because there are so many different versions of the truth here. This is a structurally tricky novel, with a book within a book, a fictional family and a “real” family and a final section that strips away whatever conclusions you have already drawn. It won’t appeal to everyone, but by I was bored by the beginning of this book. The family and business history of a fictional tycoon just didn’t grab me. But I’m glad that I hung on to the end. I think I might change the title of the book to “Truth”, because there are so many different versions of the truth here. This is a structurally tricky novel, with a book within a book, a fictional family and a “real” family and a final section that strips away whatever conclusions you have already drawn. It won’t appeal to everyone, but by the end I thought it was amazing. Unfortunately, I had to go through the boring part to get there. 4.5 stars

  20. 5 out of 5

    Paul Fulcher

    Trust by Hernan Diaz has an interesting, and in some respects brave, structure, albeit one that many readers have commented seems to have been borrowed from Susan Choi's Trust Exercise, which is perhaps a clever metafictional approach given metafictional clumsiness is at the heart of the novel, as is the theme of men taking credit for women's achievements. The second best way to read this book might to be to do without foreknowledge of this structure, but the high level of publicity and authorial Trust by Hernan Diaz has an interesting, and in some respects brave, structure, albeit one that many readers have commented seems to have been borrowed from Susan Choi's Trust Exercise, which is perhaps a clever metafictional approach given metafictional clumsiness is at the heart of the novel, as is the theme of men taking credit for women's achievements. The second best way to read this book might to be to do without foreknowledge of this structure, but the high level of publicity and authorial interviews makes that difficult, and so I will cover it in my review. Although the best way might be not to read it at all - of a book published at the same time, The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas does something similar but is much more accomplished. The novel is split into four parts, three of them novellas and the last a brief coda: Bonds by Harold Vanner My Life by Andrew Bevel A Memoir Remembered by Ida Partenza Futures by Mildred Bevel Bonds is the loosely fictionalised biography (fictional even within the novel's world) of a 1920-30s Wall Street tycoon Benjamin Rask and his wife Helen, published (in the novel's world) in the early 1930s. It is written in the style of an Edith Wharton, although Vanner (and perhaps also Diaz?) is a rather poor imitator of her prose, and the novella is (deliberately?) badly written. Rask is based on the real-life (in the novel's world - I will stop adding that for fear of this review becoming as tedious as Vanner's prose) Andrew Revel, whose late wife was called Mildred. And My Life is Revel's own autobiographical account, designed to counter Vanner's scurrilous portrayal, both of Andrew Revel's part in the late 1920s Wall Street crash but also Vanner's version of Mildred, who Vanner has dying after severe mental health problems, but who Vanner portrays as a simple, but kindly soul. Or rather My Life is a partly completed account, with lots of 'add some anecdotes here' type comments left in the manuscript for example: His unique, discreetly creative approach. Free Banking Era. Opportunities in currency fluctuation, etc. 2–3 examples. Again this isn't a great read as the tone is deliberately rather pompous and (disappointingly) in both sections, the details of the operation of the stock market during the fascinating memoir are as sketchy as parts of Revel's incomplete work. Hence my 'brave' comment earlier - for the reader, a pastiche of a badly written book is still a badly written book. Although both Bonds and My Life are quick reads, ideally skimmed, as there is seldom a word which isn't wasted. The third part is the novel's highlight. Ida Partenza proves to be Revel's typist (as he would have seen her) or ghost-writer (in reality), responsible for My Life. In A Memoir Remembered she is recounting, decades later, how she became involved with Revel and with his autobiography. Parts of this story were compelling, although a side story involving her jealous boyfriend, a journalist, seemed more designed to set up part four of the book, rather than add anything, and that of her Italian anarchist father felt like it deserved another book. The reminisces on the past in A Memoir Remembered are interspersed with Partenza's account of contemporary visit to the Revel's former home, now turned into a museum. There she finds a diary written by Mildred Revel. And the novel's brief final section is that diary, written from the Swiss sanitorium where Mildred (and Helen, albeit from a different cause) ended her days. And this section contains a revelation that had been rather heavy-handidly signposted throughout. Ultimately, not entirely successful, at times deliberately so. 2 stars Thanks to the publisher via Netgalley for the ARC.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ari Levine

    2.5, rounded down.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jaylen

    I’m GOOPED and GAGGED. Full thoughts here: https://youtu.be/Zj924mAtbho I’m GOOPED and GAGGED. Full thoughts here: https://youtu.be/Zj924mAtbho

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dax

    This one seems to be getting rave reviews from the pros, but a bit more mixed from those of us among the amateur ranks. Diaz's first novel was A+, so I was excited to see what his sophomore effort would look like. Thematically, 'Trust' is impressive. Diaz looks into the distinction, or lack thereof, between history and fiction. How narrative can be used as a device to bend fact. Not a new concept by any means, but Diaz tackles it well. Money, the ultimate fiction, as the omnipotent commodity. The This one seems to be getting rave reviews from the pros, but a bit more mixed from those of us among the amateur ranks. Diaz's first novel was A+, so I was excited to see what his sophomore effort would look like. Thematically, 'Trust' is impressive. Diaz looks into the distinction, or lack thereof, between history and fiction. How narrative can be used as a device to bend fact. Not a new concept by any means, but Diaz tackles it well. Money, the ultimate fiction, as the omnipotent commodity. The last part of the novel touches on the role of women throughout history, and history's tendency to marginalize and overshadow their roles. All of those themes make for interesting study. The problem here lies with Part II, which is framed as an incomplete manuscript of a memoir by the central character. It is superfluous. The far more interesting Part III illustrates the same points that the author is trying to make in Part II. To make matters worse, Diaz intentionally writes with a stiff prose to match Bevel's character traits. He does it too well. Eliminating this section would have improved the reading experience without missing the important takeaways the writer was trying to create. This is a significantly different approach from Diaz's first novel, both stylistically and thematically. It shows a wide talent with immense promise of future work. We should all keep an eye on Diaz, even if this one wasn't quite our cup of tea. I thought it good though and give this a comfortable three stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    jeremy

    authority and money surround themselves with silence, and one can measure the reach of someone's influence by the thickness of the hush enveloping them. an impressive, often mesmerizing feat of narration and storytelling, hernan diaz's trust (following his pulitzer finalist debut, in the distance) is a tale of wealth, power, veracity, influence, privilege, and legacy. the polyphonic story of a prominent financier, his wife, and the conflicting portrayals of their lives and fortunes, trust off authority and money surround themselves with silence, and one can measure the reach of someone's influence by the thickness of the hush enveloping them. an impressive, often mesmerizing feat of narration and storytelling, hernan diaz's trust (following his pulitzer finalist debut, in the distance) is a tale of wealth, power, veracity, influence, privilege, and legacy. the polyphonic story of a prominent financier, his wife, and the conflicting portrayals of their lives and fortunes, trust offers four distinct perspectives, each with its own version of verisimilitude. diaz's remarkably assured second novel reckons with reality, those who get to write it, those silenced/banished/marginalized to its fringes, and the ways in which affluence distorts, disrupts, and even discards the voices and vantages of those without the clout to amend or alter the official record, let alone tell their own story themselves. hierarchy, individual gain vs. collective good, profit, plunder, and popularity, trust, though set so many decades ago, resounds with relevance in our hyper-connected, ever accelerating age of money worship and proliferating public persona. trust is an exceptional novel, one which functions on so many different levels while never ever forsaking for even an instant the compelling power of prose and the irresistibility of scintillating storytelling. diaz does it all and more; trust is telling the truth.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Will

    2.5 - I am being extremely generous in rounding this up.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris Haak

    3,5 I had hoped I would love this book more as I’m making this book of the month in the bookshop I work in. In the end, I found it OK but not excellent. The idea is fascinating; telling more or less the same story through various means (a novel, an autobiography, the version of a biographer, and a diary). It makes you wonder what exactly is the true story? If there is a true story of course 😉. There is a revaluation in the end providing the reader with a believable truth though. I also liked the 3,5 I had hoped I would love this book more as I’m making this book of the month in the bookshop I work in. In the end, I found it OK but not excellent. The idea is fascinating; telling more or less the same story through various means (a novel, an autobiography, the version of a biographer, and a diary). It makes you wonder what exactly is the true story? If there is a true story of course 😉. There is a revaluation in the end providing the reader with a believable truth though. I also liked the themes of money & capitalism, truth, misogyny, and women’s place in history. This book is smart and interesting but not all parts worked for me. I’m afraid the second part just bored me. Thank you Pan MacMillan and Netgalley UK for the ARC.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Canon

    "If I'm ever wrong, I must make use of all my means and resources to bend and align reality according to my mistake so that it ceases to be a mistake." This is a novel in four intricately connected parts. Each part is a different genre — novel, manuscript of an autobiography, memoir, diary — through which Diaz voices different perspectives on the same people and events, unspooling the grand illusions in which the wealthy and powerful cloak themselves and revealing the inseparability of our fictio "If I'm ever wrong, I must make use of all my means and resources to bend and align reality according to my mistake so that it ceases to be a mistake." This is a novel in four intricately connected parts. Each part is a different genre — novel, manuscript of an autobiography, memoir, diary — through which Diaz voices different perspectives on the same people and events, unspooling the grand illusions in which the wealthy and powerful cloak themselves and revealing the inseparability of our fictions from reality. Taking place mostly in New York City in the 1930s, it is perhaps more accurate to say it takes place within the narrators' documentary recollections, regrets, hopes, fabrications, images. It is in this way an homage to the books, libraries, archives, and museums looming large in its pages — technologies and institutions that collect our fictions and help solidify them into new realities shaping our world. There isn't much I can say without spoiling what Diaz has referred to as the novel's puzzle-like quality. The narrative voice of part two is particularly interesting as we are shown (in part three) the process of its Frankensteinian creation out of the dead voices of Great American Men so that its new bearer can revel in his own fictive status as a Free Market Hero. Part four flips all the roles and expectations built up in the book, showing the mortality even of the illusions the rich and famous hope to outlast them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Hernan Diaz’ Trust is a multilayered historical novel of New York society and American capitalism in the two decades before the Great Depression, during which "New York swelled with the loud optimism of those who believe they have outpaced the future." Diaz asks us whom do we trust to unpack the mystery of Mildred Bevel’s life, a wealthy woman with an old New York society pedigree and married to Andrew Bevel, an asocial New York financier with an equally distinguished pedigree? Hernan Diaz’s Mil Hernan Diaz’ Trust is a multilayered historical novel of New York society and American capitalism in the two decades before the Great Depression, during which "New York swelled with the loud optimism of those who believe they have outpaced the future." Diaz asks us whom do we trust to unpack the mystery of Mildred Bevel’s life, a wealthy woman with an old New York society pedigree and married to Andrew Bevel, an asocial New York financier with an equally distinguished pedigree? Hernan Diaz’s Mildred is obviously intended to remind us of Henry James and Edith Wharton’s women, brought up largely “on the Continent,” schooled in music and literature, and well versed in pleasant conversation. In Trust, Hernan Diaz looks through four different lenses, each with a different and distinct voice, to investigate the fictional Andrew and Mildred Bevel: “Bonds,” a novel by Harold Vanner, provides an account of the upbringing, marriage, and death of Helen Brevoort Rask, a fictional stand-in for the fictional Mildred Howland Bevel; “My Life,” the fictional memoir of the fictional Andrew Bevel, written by the fictional Ida Partenza; “A Memoir, Remembered,” the fictional Ida Partenza’s own memoir of her youth and employment by Andrew Bevel; and “Futures,” the fictional fragmentary late life diary of the fictional Mildred Bevel, discovered by Partenza and smuggled out of the Bevel library following his death. Using four different perspectives with four different voices examining a fictional couple is a clever device, but where Hernan Diaz really slips the bounds of conventional fiction is in “My Life,” Bevel’s memoir. Remember that "My Life," Bevel's memoir, is in fact written by Ida Partenza: I would no longer try to capture Bevel's voice. Instead I would create the voice he wishes he had".. Diaz here challenges the reader to bear with him in reading Andrew Bevel’s braggadocio about his mathematical prowess and unique skill in understanding and predicting market movements. Bevel’s description of the sainted Mildred borders on the comic, evoking the “little woman” of wealthy domesticity: "Mildred was my muse. Because of her, an already successful career soared to new heights." “My Life” is, I suppose, intentionally simultaneously boring and maddening, doing little or nothing to evoke sympathy for Andrew Bevel but doing much to reveal him through his self-mythologizing. “A Memoir, Remembered” yields a much fuller portrait of Andrew than his own “My Life.” The heart of Trust lies not with Andrew but with Mildred and Ida, the two women who truly dominate the narrative. Mildred emerges in “Futures” as a far more accomplished and nuanced and accomplished character than portrayed by Andrew in “My Life” or by Harold Vanner in “Bonds.” Ida Partenza, Bevel’s amanuensis, also emerges as a fascinating character in her own right, and as a determined miner into Mildred’s true personality and accomplishments. A particular delight of Trust is the capitalist egotism and self-justification mouthed by Andrew, matched by the American Marxist cant voiced by Ida’s anarchist immigrant father. Here's the hateful Andrew: "Whatever the past may have handed to us, it is up to each o bus to chisel our present out of the shapeless block of the future. My ancestors offer abundant proof of this. We Bevels have lived through numerous crises, panics and recessions: 1807, 1837, 1873, 1884, 1893, 1907, 1920, 1929. Not only have we survived them, but we have emerged stronger, always keeping our nation's best interest at heart." Bevel again: "A nation's prosperity is based on nothing but a multitude of egoisms aligning until they resemble what is known as the common good." And here's Ida's father: "Money is a fantastic commodity. You can't eat or wear money, but it represents all the food and clothes in the world. This is why it's a fiction. And this is what turns it into the measure with which we value all other commodities. What does this mean? It means that money becomes the universal commodity. But remember: money is a fiction. . . " I can’t speak to the accuracy of the capitalist voice, but the Marxist cant is spot-on for this particular slice of Americana in the first half of the nineteenth century. For me, Trust stands as an entertaining, stylish and clever historical novel. Hernan Diaz dares to take chances with his two novels, and I find that those chances richly reward me as a reader. 4.5 stars

  29. 5 out of 5

    fatma

    A modern classic in the making, Trust is one of the most fascinating novels I've read all year. Trust is a novel that is, at its most basic level, about capital. This is very much front and center in its first section, "Bonds," where one of our two main leads is the hugely successful and nigh indomitable Wall Street financier, Benjamin Rask. Here the novel plants the seeds of the ideas it's going to explore in its next three sections, namely the kind of mutability that is inherent to capital and A modern classic in the making, Trust is one of the most fascinating novels I've read all year. Trust is a novel that is, at its most basic level, about capital. This is very much front and center in its first section, "Bonds," where one of our two main leads is the hugely successful and nigh indomitable Wall Street financier, Benjamin Rask. Here the novel plants the seeds of the ideas it's going to explore in its next three sections, namely the kind of mutability that is inherent to capital and the way it operates. That's where you get passages like these, "He became fascinated by the contortions of money--how it could be made to bend back upon itself to be force-fed its own body . . . It was the complexity of it, yes, but also the fact that he viewed capital as an antiseptically living thing. It moves, eats, grows, breeds, falls ill, and may die." "His reticence increased with his reach. The further and deeper his investment extended into society, the more he withdrew into himself. It seemed that the virtually endless mediations that constitute a fortune--equities and bonds tied to corporations tied to land equipment and laboring multitudes, housed, fed, and clothed through the labor of yet other multitudes around the world, paid in different currencies with a value, also the object of trade and speculation, tied to the fate of different national economies tied, ultimately, to corporations tied tied to equities and bonds--had rendered immediate relationships irrelevant to him." So the novel is interested in looking at the many permutations of capital: how one thing is transmuted into another, all these different "mediations" that can and do make capital seem so abstract for those at the top pulling its strings. It's not a stretch, then, to go from exploring the permutations of capital to exploring the permutations of narrative. That is to say, more than just being about capital, Trust is also a (very meta) novel about narrative--and those two things are, in fact, inextricable. The structure of the novel--four sections, all told from different points of view--very clearly brings this thematic focus to bear. And Trust is such a cleverly structured story: its narrative asks some patience of you, but by its end rewards you tenfold for that patience. What started out as a somewhat slow-moving and dispassionate novel for me ended up being an absolutely fascinating and, in many ways, enthralling read precisely because it started out in that very deliberately slow, measured way from the outset. I love when literary fiction novels keep me on my toes, and Trust did that and then some. It went in directions I never expected it to go, and more than just being surprising, those little twists and turns made the novel so much more thematically rich and complex in the end. Much in the same way that capital is always subject to these "mediations"--equities, bonds, land, etc.--Trust also gives us narratives about this famous financier character that are mediated by different authors and genres: a novel, a memoir, a journal. And the more you try to put your finger on what kind of person this man is, the harder it becomes to define him; accounts of his character are always shifting, transmuting across the book's many narratives and genres. Language, of course, plays a critical role in how these narratives work--in fact, what I loved so much about Diaz's exploration of narrative is how carefully he pays attention to language in his writing, specifically the parallels between the personal and the financial. The novel is called "Trust" and its first section is called "Bonds"--the double meanings there fit right into what the novel is trying to do re: capital + narrative. But Trust takes this even further; it's also interested in asking questions about the relationship between the self and wealth: in what ways is the former caught up in the latter? And as much as the novel highlights how wealth is institutional--supported and perpetuated by all the institutions that work in one's favour because one happens to fall on the side of privilege--Trust is also interested in interrogating what it means on an individual level to accrue these almost unfathomable amounts of wealth. What kind of person would you have to be to be able to do that? Where does the drive to make so much money come from, and, ultimately, where does it lead? "Every single one of our acts is ruled by the laws of economy. When we first wake up in the morning we trade rest for profit. When we go to bed at night we give up potentially profitable hours to renew our strength. And throughout our day we engage in countless transactions. Each time we find a way to minimize our effort and increase our gain we are making a business deal, even if it is with ourselves. These negotiations are so ingrained in our routine that they are barely noticeable. But the truth is our existence revolves around profit." Finally, I want to mention the writing, which is just pitch-perfect. (I highlighted so many passages, not just because they were interesting, but also because they were just beautifully written.) Trust is one of those rare novels that's so deftly and precisely written that not a single word feels out of place. You really feel like you're in such capable hands here because the writing is so measured, controlled in a way that makes it feel elegant rather than stiff. If the novel's structure--its different narrative genres--works well, it's because the narrative voice in each of its sections is distinctive, attuned not just to the genre in question (memoir, journal, etc.), but to the narrator who is giving us access to that narrative. "Her speculations reflected one another, like parallel mirrors--and, endlessly, each image inside the vertiginous tunnel looked at the next wondering whether it was the original or a reproduction. This, she told herself, was the beginning of madness. The mind becoming the flesh for its own teeth." My review of Trust has, so far, been less about my opinion of the novel and more about its thematic layers. To me, though, those two things are equivalent: that is to say, I loved this book precisely because it was so thematically rich. Like Noor Naga's If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, it's a novel that I found remarkably thought-provoking, propulsive by virtue of the strength of its compelling commentary and structure. As with Naga's novel, I started Trust feeling a bit lukewarm about it--but then it won me over, and the fact that it did just made me love it that much more in the end. Thanks so much to Picador for providing me with an e-ARC of this via NetGalley!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Oscreads

    My jaw was left on the floor.

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