... intricate, cunning and consistently surprising ... Diaz’s own prose keeps an antiseptic distance of its own, no matter who his narrator might be ... Some writers capture their characters’ thoughts through what creative writing teachers call a close third person. Diaz relies in contrast on a far one, and his sentences are at once cool, deliberate and dispassionate. In both books, he reports on his characters’ inner lives instead of dramatizing them, and in Vanner’s hands especially, the result reads more like a biography than a novel: a narrative without dialogue, in which Rask’s life is given to us more often in summary than in scenes ... It’s a disorienting but effective way to present a character who seems almost entirely without an inner life of his own, whose whole being lies in anticipating the clickety-click of a ticker tape ... much of the novel’s pleasure derives from its unpredictability, from its section-by-section series of formal surprises ... a strangely self-reflexive work: strangely, because unlike some metafictional exercises this book does more than chase its own tail. The true circularity here lies in the workings of capital, in a monetary system so self-referential that it has forgotten what Diaz himself remembers. For Trust always acknowledges the world that lies outside its own pages. It recognizes the human costs of a great fortune, even though its characters can see nothing beyond their own calculations; they are most guilty when most innocent, most enthralled by the abstraction of money itself.
[An] enthralling tour de force ... Each story talks to the others, and the conversation is both combative and revelatory ... As an American epic, Trust gives The Great Gatsby a run for its money ... Diaz’s debut, In the Distance, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Trust fulfills that book’s promise, and then some ... Wordplay is Trust’s currency ... In Diaz’s accomplished hands we circle ever closer to the black hole at the core of Trust ... Trust is a glorious novel about empires and erasures, husbands and wives, staggering fortunes and unspeakable misery ... He spins a larger parable, then, plumbing sex and power, causation and complicity. Mostly, though, Trust is a literary page-turner, with a wealth of puns and elegant prose, fun as hell to read.
Everything in Trust is in its place. Like four exquisite dioramas, Diaz has set up all of these stories with great precision to present two fundamental questions: Why do we tell stories? And at what cost are those stories told? The stories in question revolve around finance, power, and identity, are all self-serving, and are about much more than what one person does to another ... a remarkably accessible treatise on the power of fiction. This unquestionably smart and sophisticated novel not only mirrors truth, but helps us to better understand it.
Diaz's ingenious new fiction, told in four overlapping parts, challenges conventional story lines of another favorite American theme: capitalism and the accumulation of vast wealth ... With great skill and using multiple voices, Diaz employs his inventive structure to offer intriguing insights into the hidden roles played by subservient women.
It’s a rare thing to fall in love at first conceit. But...it’s as if Hernan Diaz’s latest novel, Trust, was built in a lab to hit my pleasure nodes ... And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing here, like a gorgeous cut of meat that needed a touch more seasoning and a bit more sear ... Though I quite like Trust, and recommend you read it, it’s a book whose own sparseness feels mismatched with its gilded action, and a book which may be just a touch too tidy for its own good ... I liked it best of all, though, when Trust was researching itself. A vignette from one character’s childhood recurs over the book in multiple sections and modifies itself until a memorable, disturbing climax when it reappears in an unlikely mouth. Part 4 is the highlight of the novel, a masterful segment of a character’s diary with a tiny bit of magic and a twist I won’t spoil ... One of the most admirable traits of Trust is its novelistic ambition ... What is odd is that Trust fully blooms when out of sight — I’ve liked it more in the writing of this review, as I’ve circled back through, relishing the characters and hijinks.
Trust is a rich and prismatic—though ultimately anticlimactic—novel interested in the twin meanings of speculation, both the act of amassing wealth through the stock market and of creating stories to explain and define the past. Mr. Diaz’s method is to juxtapose competing interpretations of the life of his character Andrew Bevel ... Mr. Diaz’s skillful mimicry...pays real dividends in the complex portion of the book narrated by Ida, whose memories, not all of them reliable, mediate among the portrayals of Bevel created by his critics and the one Bevel sought to establish for himself ... A highly stimulating sense of narrative pressure builds up as the fictions invented around these enigmas collide and bleed into one another ... I am chagrined to say that much of this excellent work is undone in the concluding entries from Mildred’s diary, which effectively erase all of the novel’s finely poised mysteries. With these Mr. Diaz chooses straightforward explanation over ambiguity, leaving readers with a predictable—and, in itself, highly artificial—lesson about the way women have been written out of history. The coda left me with only one remaining unanswerable question: In the final estimation, just how good or bad is a good book with a bad ending?
The only certainty here is Diaz’s brilliance and the value of his rewarding book ... In each grandly choreographed chapter of this novella, disparate movements are gradually brought to conclusions both surprising and inevitable ... when their fateful punishment arrives, it’s suitably shocking and humiliating, a melodrama of debasement designed to reassure readers that the ethical accounting of the universe cannot be cheated ... sounds repellently overcomplicated, but in execution it’s an elegant, irresistible puzzle. The novel isn’t just about the way history and biography are written; it’s a demonstration of that process. By the end, the only voice I had any faith in belonged to Diaz.
... one of the least derivative, most eccentrically ambitious fiction writers I’ve read in a long while ... As compelling as this is—coldly and beautifully rendered, with remarkable psychological precision and all the fascinatingly lurid details of a life of almost lunatic privilege—one feeling it engenders in the reader, as the story moves toward its climax, is that it is, in some logistical sense, moving too fast: that is, the history of the Rasks will surely wrap up less than a third of the way through the hefty novel one is holding ... To describe it past a certain point is to risk giving too much away. One of the many levels on which it succeeds is that of a puzzle, and the further one ventures into summary, the more apparent the outlines of the puzzle become. In its first two books especially, much of what propels the reader through Trust is the simple, suspenseful question of whether these disparate parts, with their ghostly echoes, will unveil a whole at all.
... one of those novels that's always pulling a fast one on a reader ... The opening section of Trust...is so sharply realized, it's disorienting to begin the novel's next section, composed of notes on a story that sounds like the one we've just read. But, then, Diaz lures us readers into once again suspending our disbelief when we reach the captivating third section of his novel ... wired with booby traps, blowing the whole artifice up before our wide-open eyes ... an ingeniously constructed historical novel with a postmodern point. Throughout, Diaz makes a connection between the realms of fiction and finance ... an artistic fortune.
Like a tower of gifts waiting to be unwrapped, Trust offers a multitude of rewards to be discovered and enjoyed, its sharp observations so finely layered as to demand an immediate rereading ... Each section contains a compelling perspective that builds upon the one that came before ... After a slow, steady build, Trust shifts into high-octane gear in part three, an engrossing memoir by noted journalist Ida Partenzan ... If this series of interconnected narratives already sounds complicated, don’t worry: Each section flows easily into the next in Diaz’s supremely skilled hands, with increasing momentum and intrigue. Throughout, he examines the wide disparities between rich and poor, truth and fiction, and the insidious ways in which these divides have long been crafted. The fourth and final section, pages from Mildred’s diary, contains a startling twist to this literary feast—a wonderfully satisfying end to Diaz’s beautifully composed masterpiece.
For all its elegant complexity and brilliant construction, Diaz’s novel is compulsively readable, and despite taking place in the early 1900s, the plot reads like an indictment of the start of the twenty-first century with its obsession with obscure financial instruments and unhinged capital accumulation. A captivating tour de force that will astound readers with its formal invention and contemporary relevance.
...more than simply succeeding at its genre exercises, the novel brilliantly weaves its multiple perspectives to create a symphony of emotional effects ... No one document tells the whole story, but the collection of palimpsests makes for a thrilling experience and a testament to the power and danger of the truth—or a version of it—when it’s set down in print. A clever and affecting high-concept novel of high finance.
...a kaleidoscope of capitalism run amok in the early 20th century, which also manages to deliver a biography of its irascible antihero and the many lives he disfigures during his rise to the cream of the city’s crop. Grounded in history and formally ambitious, this succeeds on all fronts. Once again, Diaz makes the most of his formidable gifts.