‘Spring’ by David Szalay – A Would-Be Romance


Spring’ by David Szalay (2011) – 259 pages

David Szalay has a new novel, ‘Turbulence’, coming out in June, but I was so impressed with his previous collection of stories, ‘All That Man Is’, that I couldn’t wait and decided to read his novel from 2011, ‘Spring’, right now.

All of the stories in ‘All That Man Is’ centered around young men making or not making their way in this modern world, and I found each story engaging, insightful, and eloquent.

There are writers of historical fiction, romance, science fiction, and mystery, but there are few writers who can articulate this maddening modern world we now live in. David Szalay is one who can take on modern life today, and I value him for that.

‘Spring’ is about a would-be romance between a young man and a young woman, James and Katherine, in London, but outside factors like Katherine’s ex-lover Fraser keep getting in the way. James had made a fortune in the dot.com boom of the late nineties but has lost it in the bust, and now he’s working on a shady horse racing scheme with his pals in order to recoup a little of the money. Katherine works in a reception desk in a hotel where she earlier had met her ex, Fraser, who makes a living as a photographer taking pictures of celebrities on the sly.

In ‘Spring’, Szalay captures nearly every nuance of the interaction between James and Katherine from a nice outing in Morroco to Katherine’s indifference when she starts things back up with her old boyfriend. One time James calls Katherine and he can hear noises that makes him suspect there’s a man in her room. Sadly that reminded me of an episode in my own past.

I suppose ‘Spring’ could be described as an anti-romcom as James presses forward to get closer to Katherine but is met by her seeming lack of enthusiasm. ‘Spring’ is more realistic than a romance by capturing every twist and turn of this harrowing relationship or non-relationship between these two.

We also get the spurious results of the whole horse racing scheme which adds some light humor to this entertainment. Szalay captures what it must be like for young guys and gals to live in London now and how they get together or don’t get together.

England is quite far along in recognizing David Szalay as a perceptive writer, but the United States has not really discovered him yet. I will be waiting for ‘Turbulence’ to arrive in June.


Grade:    A-


3 responses to this post.

  1. Yes, I like it when authors engage with the modern world too.
    Though I’ve been interested to see that African writers (from Ghana, Nigeria, & S. Africa that I know of) are using a new kind of historical novel to reveal voices not heard under colonialism. I like that as well.



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