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Hernan Diaz on power, truth, and Trust

By Kobo • September 02, 2022Kobo in Conversation Podcast

"[Andrew] Bevel—the tycoon here—he's not 'kind of rich.' He's probably the richest man on the planet.

That was the kind of wealth I was interested in. Not someone who's just doing okay."

Novelist Hernan Diaz is a professor at Columbia University and the author of In the Distance, a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize. We spoke with him about a range of topics that inform his new novel Trust, a fractured, multi-layered book about the life and ambitions of the fictional tycoon Andrew Bevel.

Trust by Hernan Diaz

At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

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As a professor of literature, it comes as no surprise to find that classic American literature deeply informs Hernan Diaz's work, both in the style of its greatest writers and how they handle certain topics (or don't).

On (the absence of) how money is made in American literature: "In the American canon [...] if you read Edith Wharton or Henry James [...] money is already there. It's seldom made. [...] Literature itself has been very priggish about money."

On the polyphony of voices in his book, especially bringing out the voices of women: "As the first part of the book is so overtly in conversation with writers like Constance Fennimore Woolson or Edith Wharton, the last part of the book is addressing writers like Virginia Woolf or Jean Rhys. Gertrude Stein is a writer I love so much. Iris Origo [...] There's a wide list of modernist writers that to me are immensely important and the fourth part is a bit of a love letter to them."

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