Skip to content

Booker Longlist – Trust by Hernan Diaz

Book 11 – reviewed by panelists Book Worm, Nicole, Tracy, Lisa and Jen

Hernan Diaz A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award, Hernan Diaz is the author of two novels, which have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Synopsis from Booker Prize website: 

A literary puzzle about money, power, and intimacy, Trust challenges the myths shrouding wealth, and the fictions that often pass for history.

He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top – but at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the centre of Bonds, a successful 1938 novel that all New York seems to have read. But there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.

Trust elegantly draws these competing narratives into conversation with each other – and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a provocative and propulsive novel that spans an entire century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.

BookWorm’s Thoughts: I liked this book but I didn’t love it. This is very meta we have stories within stories, different authors, different reasons for writing and of course that good ole staple the unreliable narrator to be fair I am not sure any of the narrators in the whole of the book are reliable.

I will give the author kudos for making the world of stock trading interesting and for the layered way the story is unveiled it is clever way of telling the story of a single character.

I love the way the title is a play on words and can be read in several different ways the meanings piling up the further into the book you read.

Writing quality: 3/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 3/4
Plot development: 3/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 14/20

Tracy’s Thoughts: And here it is. The WTF book for me. 

I did not enjoy this book at all. It lacked cohesiveness, the characters were forgettable, and the subject of finance is one I have no interest in. 

That being said, I know there are lots of good reviews for this- maybe I was missing something, or maybe I just don’t connect with this author, because I struggled with his previous book, too. 

So this is probably the winner. Sigh. 

Writing quality: 2/5
Originality: 1/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot: 2/4
Enjoyment: 0/2
Total: 6/20

Lisa Thoughts: Like Case Study, this novel tells the story of a character’s life from a few different perspectives. Mildred is the wife of a wealthy mogul, Andrew Bevel who dies young. In the first part of the novel, we read a factionalized — and sensationalized — version of her life by author Harold Vanner. In the second part, we read notes from Andrew Bevel, who wants to set the record straight about his dear wife Mildred, but is unable to produce many details about her and her life, and instead has lots to say about his own prowess in making money, including how he has always had the best interests of the country (the US) at heart even as he profited off the 1929 stock market crash. In the third part, we learn of another woman, Ida, who is hired to help Andrew Bevel write about Mildred, and who has her own larger-than-life male personalities to contend with. Finally, we hear from Mildred, who, no surprise, does not see herself the way Andrew or Harold have portrayed her. So this novel is really about how men with various types of power seek to impose their narrative of another person’s life on the world. Does this sound familiar? In addition to being a very modern examination of an ever-present danger for women, I found the novel to be enjoyable to read, including the middle part which was mostly just notes from Andrew. This is also probably the only book I’ve ready in which finance and money was a central theme and yet was still an interesting book.

Writing quality: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 4/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 2/2
Total: 18/20

Nicole’s Thoughts:

A literary game of telephone. 

The “novel” around which this whole book revolves, was, in my opinion – weak and boring; it was really hard to care about everything that came after.  It was an interesting concept, and I did appreciate that. The book had 4 distinct storytellers – I enjoyed one of them.  There was absolutely no emotion and because of the structure hard to develop any kind of attachment.  

It was clever, though, and certainly aptly titled.  There were a lot of branches on that Trust tree, not enough to save my rating, however.  

Writing quality: 2.5/5
Originality: 3/5
Character development: 1/4
Plot development: 2/4
Overall enjoyment: .5/2
Total: 9/20

Jen’s Thoughts: Wow what a spread in our panel’s ratings! I ended up liking this book much more than I had expected. What was initially a fairly dry and mostly boring (to me) narrative became much more interesting when I realized it was a narrative within a larger narrative and I enjoyed the way in which the various books came together. When describing this novel to my colleague mid-way through the first narrative, I said “I went from reading this action packed narrative about Sri Lankan civil war to this Edith Wharton story about wall street financiers in the early 1900s, so I’m a bit bored”. I don’t particularly care for, or find that lifestyle interesting. Then in narrative 2, the first narrative was described as a knock off of Edith Wharton (way to go Jen!) and I realized what the author was doing. It’s interesting that so many of the longlist books this year are narratives within narratives or stories told through various styles and/or mediums.

Anyway, it was a clever book and brilliantly written. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other books I’ve read from the longlist but I appreciated the themes that Lisa described above in her review and I thought it was very clever. There’s a lot to unpack in the book: themes of power, voice, relationships, and truth. I’m a bit stunned at the low ratings from other panels but this is why we have a panel of different readers. To me this certainly deserves a spot in the top half but I still have two books left to read.

Writing quality: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Character development: 2/4
Plot development: 4/4
Overall enjoyment: 1/2
Total: 16/20

Rankings

  1. The Colony 18.8
  2. Maps of our Spectacular Bodies – 18.1
  3. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida 18
  4. The Trees 16.4
  5. Oh William 15.6
  6. Small Things Like These 15.3
  7. Case Study 15
  8. Booth 13.7
  9. The Treacle Walker: 13
  10. Trust 12.6
  11. Night crawling 11.08

Have you read it?  What do you think? Will this book make the shortlist?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is NOT winning, Tracy. But, I have to say one thing I love about our panel is that your thoughtful reviews help me appreciate things about books I didn’t enjoy. But if this wins over Moons, Colony or Maps, I will scream. In fact, I don’t even want it on the shortlist.

    Liked by 2 people

    September 1, 2022
    • Tracy S #

      I hope you’re right – it would make me question my faith in literature. I do have to say that this has been the best long list I’ve read. In preparation this year, I read a lot of very good contenders- I’m glad I wasn’t a judge this year!

      Liked by 1 person

      September 1, 2022
  2. agree! such a strong year

    Liked by 1 person

    September 1, 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: