Hernan Diaz “Trust”

This book is fantastic. It is historical fiction that is also literary and it contains so much fodder for great discussions. I hope you and some friends will read it and discuss it.

The structure is challenging, but stick with it. The novel is written in four sections, of which the first one is a novel within a novel. Even this novel within doesn’t follow the “rules” of genre fiction. There is no inciting incident, no escalation, etc. There is a plot, but it is an interior plot with exterior consequences. The second section is a partially completed memoir by the supposedly real person that the novel was about. The third section is the story of a woman who, as it turns out, knows the whole truth, or as near to it as anyone in this book can. The fourth section is the missing journal of the wife of the person whose memoir is in section 2. Don’t worry, it all makes sense when you read it.

Trust has been on tons of best of lists and it totally deserves it. The writing is beautiful, but the message is also clear and vital and relevant. Just to give you an idea, here is a quotation. This comes from the third section, when Ida becomes the secretary for Andrew Bevel, the ostensible main character, though I would argue Ida is the main character of the novel. She is taking dictation from him as he wants to write a memoir about his life to rebut what he thinks is a slanderous novel written about him and his wife (the first part of the novel). She is reading over the pages and editing them.

“But reading these pages, it seems that more than vindicating Mildred [his wife] he wanted to turn her into a completely unremarkable, safe character—just like the wives in the autobiographies of the Great Men I read during that time to come up with Bevel’s voice. Put her in her place.” page 300.

Isn’t this what has happened to women, and others, all throughout history? The men, usually men, usually white, usually rich, get to decide what gets told. Wait until you read the last section of this book, you will love it as much as I did.

New York: Riverhead Books, 2022

Check from e-catalogue ESTER.

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Robin Henry

Volunteer at the Department of Literature in Foreign Languages

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