David Szalay

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David Szalay (/ˈsɒlɔɪ/; born 1974 in Montreal, Canada) is a Hungarian-English writer.[1]


Szalay was born in Montreal in 1974 to a Canadian mother and a Hungarian father. His family then moved to Beirut. They were forced to leave Lebanon after the onset of the Lebanese Civil War. They then moved to London, where he attended Sussex House School.[2][3] Szalay studied at the University of Oxford.[4] After graduating, Szalay worked various jobs in sales in London. He moved to Brussels, then to Pécs in Hungary to pursue his ambition of becoming a writer.[3]


Szalay has written a number of radio dramas for the BBC.[4] His 2018 book of short stories Turbulence originated in a series of 15 minute programs for BBC Radio 4. The twelve stories of Turbulence follow different people on flights around the world. It explores the globalization of family and friendship in the 21st century.[5] He won the Betty Trask Award for his first novel, London and the South-East, along with the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Since then he has written two other novels: Innocent (2009) and Spring (2011).

A linked collection of short stories, All That Man Is, was short listed for the Man Booker Prize and won the Gordon Burn Prize in 2016.[6][7] The Spectator said that "nobody captures the super-sadness of modern Europe as well as Szalay."[8] The Observer questioned its structure and whether or not it qualifies as a novel in the traditional sense: "does it in any sense work, as Jonathan Cape wants us to believe, as a novel? Yes, there's a thematic consistency that makes this more than a collection, and Szalay even throws in the odd narrative link (the 73-year-old, it transpires, is the 17-year-old's granddad). But still, a novel? I don’t think so."[9]

Szalay was included in The Telegraph's 2016 list of the top 20 British writers under 40,[10] as well as Granta magazine's 2013 list of the best young British novelists.[11]



Personal life[edit]

Szalay lives in Budapest with his wife and two children.[5]


  1. ^ Stein, Lorin (Summer 2016). "Writing All That Man Is: An Exchange". The Paris Review. Retrieved 7 February 2017.
  2. ^ "About the School". Sussex House. Retrieved 3 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b Clark, Alex (8 December 2018). "David Szalay: 'I'm laughing at myself when I write about vanity and self‑absorption'". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  4. ^ a b "David Szalay". Unitedagents.co.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  5. ^ a b Liu, Max (4 January 2019). "Writer David Szalay: 'Any single story would fail to do justice to life today'". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 March 2019.
  6. ^ Alison Flood and Mark Brown (13 September 2016). "Man Booker shortlist 2016: tiny Scottish imprint sees off publishing giants | Books". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  7. ^ Flood, Alison (7 October 2016). "David Szalay's 'unsparing' All That Man Is wins Gordon Burn prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  8. ^ Cook, Jude (16 April 2016). "All That Man Is: a novel view of masculinity". Spectator. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  9. ^ Skidelsky, William (3 April 2016). "All That Man Is by David Szalay review – tales of love and money". The Observer. Retrieved 11 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Are these Britain's best 20 novelists under 40?". Telegraph.co.uk. 18 June 2010. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Granta writers » David Szalay". granta.com. Retrieved 18 February 2024.
  12. ^ J. R. Pignataro (3 October 2019). "21 Books to Curl Up With This Fall". Newsweek. Retrieved 18 February 2024.