All Men Are Liars
Translated by Miranda France
Where can you find truth in a world that is so thoroughly ruled by lies? That is the question tackled by the investigation of a French journalist who endeavours to shed light on the enigma of an unexplained death: that of the Argentinian writer Alejandro Bevilacqua, found lying on the pavement underneath his balcony in Madrid in the mid-1970s. The few accounts of those who knew him – which include those of his last lover, a former fellow prison inmate, a sworn enemy and even the author Alberto Manguel himself – are contradictory and unreliable. Poor devil with a troubled childhood, literary genius and irresistible seducer, ordinary man masquerading as hero, pure and simple impostor – these are but a few facets of a mysterious figure in this tribute to falsehood. Between the lines, the reader must discover the only worthwhile truth: the fascinating homage Alberto Manguel pays to literature and its shape-shifting creations, which give infinite expressions to the objects of our desires.
This playful, ingenious but finally tragic novel invites us … into a labyrinth of rival narratives with an all-too-real monster at its heart.
A meticulously constructed and brilliantly executed discourse on the nature of truth and writing … [the author] has managed to create a work that is expertly weighted: at once Latin American in spirit and yet universal in its reach.
The Literary Review
A moving paean to the power of the written word and a condemnation of the repressive powers that so often seek to subvert it.
Clever, witty and entertaining; and very timely in a society increasingly accustomed to living in a blizzard of lies.
If Paul Auster wore a friendly beard and had more of a Latin temperament, he might produce something like this richly hued, melancholy and funny puzzle of a novel.
The novel … aims to shed light on the circumstances surrounding [Bevilacqua]'s death, but what it actually achieves is broader and more interesting. The predominant pleasure, as we pass from one narrator to another, is a growing impression (an illusion, perhaps, but a pleasing one) of a man's life coming into focus.
[Manguel’s fiction] works from the human core outwards, and is in fact elaborately though unpretentiously constructed.
All Men Are Liars is interesting as an exercise in storytelling … but is lifted to excellence by more traditional values: in its sense of place … in its love of characters … in the colloquial roll of its gossip-spun action.
All Men Are Liars is a remarkable novel — richly textured, ingeniously constructed and deeply unsettling.
Born in Buenos Aires in 1948, Alberto Manguel is a Canadian Argentine-born writer, translator and editor. He is the author of numerous non-fiction books such as The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi in 1980) and A History of Reading (1996) The Library at Night (2007) and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey: A Biography (2008), and novels such as News from a Foreign Country Came (1991), for which he won the McKitterick Prize.