There are nine men in this book, and they think they have unique stories. But really, aren’t they all the same man? Each of them is searching, reaching, not quite grasping their situations. None of them is at home. They are alone in the edgelands of Europe, and the stakes are bewilderingly high. And so these nine lives form an ingenious novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the 21st century man. It’s not a joke. Life is not a joke.