In this gorgeously imagined novel, a journalist interviews those who knew?or thought they knew?Alejandro Bevilacqua, a brilliant, infuriatingly elusive South American writer and author of the masterpiece, In Praise of Lying. But the accounts of those in his circle of friends, lovers, and enemies become increasingly contradictory, murky, and suspect. Is everyone lying, or just telling their own subjective version of the truth? As the literary investigation unfolds and a chorus of Bevilacqua?s peers piece together ...
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All Men Are Liars

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In this gorgeously imagined novel, a journalist interviews those who knew—or thought they knew—Alejandro Bevilacqua, a brilliant, infuriatingly elusive South American writer and author of the masterpiece, In Praise of Lying. But the accounts of those in his circle of friends, lovers, and enemies become increasingly contradictory, murky, and suspect. Is everyone lying, or just telling their own subjective version of the truth? As the literary investigation unfolds and a chorus of Bevilacqua’s peers piece together the fractured reality of his life, thirty years after his death, only the reader holds the power of final judgment.

In All Men Are Liars, Alberto Manguel pays homage to literature’s inventions and explores whether we can ever truly know someone, and the question of how, by whom, and for what, we ourselves will be remembered.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
You stick with All Men Are Liars for its interlocking secrets and for the way that Mr. Manguel, like a pilot in a stunt plane, pulls out of stalls and into gently beautiful runs…serious and worthy: its best moments imprint upon the mind.
—Dwight Garner
The New York Times Book Review
Bevilacqua the man quickly turns into Bevilacqua the narrative, and the novel gathers speed as the uncertainties accrete. Counternarratives proliferate and collide. Manguel, a fan of mysteries, has deeply internalized the genre's conventions, and all the requisite MacGuffins and narrative puzzles—dual identities, the sudden appearance of past ghosts, the priceless anonymous manuscript stashed away—are deployed elegantly and effortlessly…Manguel's novel delights in those authorial sleights of hand that enliven our most sustaining narratives.
—Michael Jauchen
Publishers Weekly
Manguel’s latest (after The Library at Night) pays homage to the intricate puzzles of writers like Borges and Cortazar without rising to their level. Most of the novel consists of a character relating a version of events to a journalist investigating the death of Argentine expatriate Alejandro Bevilacqua, a rising literary star in 1970s Madrid. Bevilacqua fell from “Alberto Manguel’s” balcony the night his debut novel, the self-proclaimed masterpiece, In Praise of Lying, was released. The journalist also records the testimony of Bevilacqua’s ex-lover, receives a letter from a former cellmate and a confession from a secret policeman, and speculates on the case himself. Separate portraits of Bevilacqua don’t unite, creating a mysterious mood and suspense. But aside from the elegiac portrait of Argentines adrift in Europe, haunted by memories of torture and imprisonment, this truth-shifting shell game is all the novel has up its sleeve. When a credible explanation of Bevilacqua’s death does emerge, it turns out that events have evolved along predictable lines, which is perhaps this intricate novel’s final twist. Intentional or not, the effect isn’t particularly rewarding. (June)
Library Journal
Set in Madrid in the late 1970s, Manguel's novel focuses on a group of refugees from the Argentinian Dirty War. At the center is first-time novelist Alejandro Bevilacqua, who, shortly after the publication of his acclaimed In Praise of Lying, escapes in a panic from a publication party and later falls from a balcony to his death. The book takes the form of a series of journalistic interviews with several people who knew him, ranging from his girlfriend, Andrea, who found the unattributed manuscript among his belongings and secretly worked to have it published, to Cuban-born writer Marcelino Olivares, with whom Bevilacqua spent time in an Argentinian prison, to the character Alberto Manguel himself, who provided a mostly sympathetic ear for Bevilaqua's life story. These characters give divergent and wholly incompatible accounts of Bevilacqua's life. VERDICT With the Dirty War as background, the book is both a captivating story and an exploration of the uneasy combination of lies and truth that make up the persona, the self, and the literary enterprise.—Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, North Andover, MA
Kirkus Reviews
A beguiling exercise in metafiction, one that tells an engrossing story from various perspectives while undermining the possibility of truth in storytelling. Toward the beginning of this literary subversion, the bare bones of the plot would seem beyond dispute. A journalist attempts to write a coherent profile of Alejandro Bevilacqua, an Argentinian living in Madrid, who suffered a fatal fall from a balcony upon the celebration of the publication of his esteemed, controversial novel, In Praise of Lying. By the novel's end, everything is up for grabs, from the quality and authorship of the novel to the cause of death. (Accident? Suicide? Murder?) The Argentine-born Manguel (A Dictionary of Imaginary Places, 1980, etc.) not only shares some biographical background with the fictional novelist, but a character with his name offers the first and longest testimony. And perhaps the least interesting, though he establishes the thematic foundation: "When Bevilacqua claimed not to be a writer, there was some truth in that. He lacked the inventive spark necessary for fiction, that disregard for what is and that excitement about what could be." As for his relationship with the deceased, the fictional Manguel equivocates, "I hardly knew him, or if I did, then it was only very vaguely. To be honest, I didn't want to know him any better. Or rather: I did know him well--I admit that now--but only in a distracted sort of way--reluctantly, as it were." Subsequent testimony--from Bevilacqua's lover (and literary champion), a fellow prisoner, a romantic rival--challenge Manguel's account, though how they see things says as much about each of them as it does about the deceased. It's up to the journalist, and the reader, to see how the pieces fit. Admits the struggling scribe, "An honest journalist (if there is such a thing) knows that he cannot tell the whole truth: the most he can aspire to is a semblance of truth, told in such a way as to seem real." This novel succeeds both as a story and an illumination of storytelling.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101574898
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Sold by: Penguin Group
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 224
  • File size: 273 KB

Meet the Author

Born in Buenos Aires, Alberto Manguel is the prize-winning author of The Dictionary of Imaginary Places (co-written with Gianni Guadalupi), A History of Reading, The Library at Night, and News From a Foreign Country Came and the translator and editor of many other works. He lives in the south of France.

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