Trust takes readers on a journey through the intricate world of high finance during the 1920s and 1930s in New York City. The book is about Andrew Bevel, a fictional financier who outsmarts the market just before the fateful stock market crash of 1929. When everyone else is losing their shirt, he converts his investments into cash mere weeks before the Great Depression hit.
Author Hernan Diaz divided his book into four distinct sections, some of which worked better than others. First there is a short, unflattering novel written by author Harold Vanner about an investor named Benjamin Rask and his mentally ill wife. The character is obviously based on Andrew Bevel. The second part is Bevel’s partial autobiography, correcting the supposed mistakes in Vanner’s fictionalized story. In part 3, readers are introduced to journalist Ida Partenze, the daughter of an exiled Italian anarchist, who Bevel hires to ghostwrite his story. Finally, the last section presents a series of journal entries by Bevel’s wife, Mildred, who is dying of cancer in a Swiss spa. Each voice is different, each truth unique, yet all threads are interrelated.
Now, allow me to vent for a moment. It’s infuriating that book reviewers, who are readers rather than fellow writers, have the gall to give this book a one-star rating. Let’s talk accolades: Booker Prize Nominee (2022), Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2023), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2022), and the Kirkus Prize for Fiction (2022). Diaz also won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2022. In my book (pun intended), those one-star ratings seem more like sabotage attempts. Someone even gave it a “1 star rounded down” rating. Seriously? Oh, and if you didn’t finish the book, it is inappropriate to write a review. A DNF is a DNF. Alright, stepping off the soapbox.
I get why not everyone fell head over heels for Trust. Finance aficionados will probably revel in the story, but to others, it may be a tad dry in parts. Honestly, I wonder if some people don’t like the book because it is too brilliant, too complex. It’s the type of book that belongs on a college English Literature syllabus. Hernan Diaz first made waves with his debut novel, In the Distance, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and with Trust he took home the coveted award. He definitely has literary chops. 4 stars.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book. The opinions are my own.