On Tuesday Sept. 27, Mansfield Public Library hosted a special virtual event featuring the finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award, Hernan Diaz. Mansfield Public Library is known for hosting author talks virtually across 37 states, presenting acclaimed authors to talk about their most popular books. Diaz spoke about his latest novel, “Trust,” analyzing its deeper meaning and how it discusses contemporary issues that relate to the world’s economic system.
While one book, “Trust” essentially comprises four sections, also known as novels. Each of these novels showcases a different fictional character that in some way becomes entangled with economics and is part of a wealthy hierarchy. As a whole, “Trust” explores who holds the monopoly upon our trust in the economic system.
Before delving into the peculiar structure of his book, Diaz provided a quick synopsis.
The first section, “Bonds,” introduces its protagonist Rask, a tycoon during the 1870s whose fortune comes from tobacco money. Throughout the story, he increases his wealth. Personally, I find the book’s second section, “My Life,” to be the most exciting one. It is a fragmentary memoir told by a fictional character who comes to discover that he himself is Rask. Realizing this, he sets out to rewrite his own version of the first novel, arguing that his version is the accurate account. “A Memoir, Remembered,” the third section, is set in the 1920s and is told by the tycoon’s former secretary, who discovers the truth of his story when she finds a book written by his wife Mildred. Last in Diaz’s book, “Futures” is a collection of diary entries written by Mildred.
According to Diaz, the four-part structure was necessary to tell such a story. He stated that part of his book’s purpose was to challenge the cliches that were imposed on women – especially that of women as victims – and also to give women a voice in the world of economics. Diaz said that trust is a concept akin to any novel, and therefore, through his book, he invites readers to question the trust they place in certain historical texts. “Trust” evidently highlights the evanescent line between history and fiction.
Diaz’s discussion was not only informative, but also intriguing for audiences who have yet to read his novel. Event-goers were likely pleased about the talk, learning about the real-world topics applied in his writing and gaining a newfound perspective of economic hierarchy.