> Skip to content

An original BBC Radio 4 commission, Turbulence is the new short story sequence from the Man Booker prize-shortlisted author of All That Man Is.

The brilliant new short story sequence from the Man Booker-shortlisted author of All That Man Is

Twelve people on the move around planet Earth, twelve individual lives, each in turmoil, and each in some way touching the next.

In this nuanced and deeply moving sequence, David Szalay’s diverse protagonists circumnavigate the world in twelve plane journeys, from London to Madrid, from Dakar to Sao Paulo, to Toronto, to Delhi, to Doha, en route to see lovers and parents, children and siblings, or nobody at all.

Along the way, Szalay deftly depicts the ripple effect that, knowingly or otherwise, a person’s actions have on those around them, and invites us to consider our own place in the vast and delicately balanced network of human relationships that is the world we live in today.


The wonderful David Szalay is back with Turbulence (Cape), an Editor's Choice for me.

Alice O'Keeffe, Bookseller

[David Szalay's] mastery of form is evident: with deft touches he builds a tangible world.

Hannah Shaddock, Radio Times

More tales of mortality from a master of the genre... [Turbulence] is a chilling achievement.

David Sexton, Evening Standard

I was intrigued by the premise and the first story didn't disappoint, capturing that altered state which being cooped up in [an aeroplane] seems to invoke.

Kate Chisholm, Spectator

Beautifully and delicately told. Each perfectly-formed story is part of a bigger narrative, as Szalay explores the way our actions influence those around us, and highlights the fact that while our technologically connected planet seems to be growing smaller, the people living upon it have grown more isolated from one another.

Christian Lisseman, Big Issue

Ingenious… [David Szalay] knows about people… Stark and spare, Turbulence is an impressive novel.

Brian Martin, Spectator

Reading David Szalay is like receiving a series of electric shocks: his preference for short, sharp sketches, rather than a single, linear plot, means that his books deny the reader the comforts of conventional, more languid storytelling… Szalay’s stories may be over in just a matter of minutes, but they are violently, appallingly immersive.

Claire Allfree, Daily Mail

Turbulence is attempting to do on a global scale what Szalay’s last book, All That Man Is, did for Europe: present us with a series of lives that feel at once profoundly particular and yet also emblematic, a portrait of our species at a time of crisis… The 21st century, Turbulence suggests, is taking place several miles above the earth, or in overlit and anonymous airports. Szalay is our greatest chronicler of these rootless, tradeworn places, and the desperate, itinerant lives of those who inhabit them.

Alex Preston, Observer

One of the impressive things about [Turbulence] is the speed and deftness with which Szalay convinces the reader that he knows what it's like to be an Indian guest worker in Qatar, an upmarket journalist in Sao Paulo, or a prosperous Senegalese businessman... Szalay's mixture of directness and withholding looks increasingly masterly.

Financial Times

Especially striking, in Mr Szalay’s recent work [Turbulence], is how easily he inhabits diverse perspectives… A willingness to leave the dots unjoined is one of the virtues that make Mr Szalay's fiction so rewarding.


Affecting… an ambitious, realist and fascinating sequenced collection that often courts discomfort.

Mika Ross-Southall, Sunday Times

Szalay conjures up his characters and locations deftly and elegantly, giving each subtle vignette a lingering resonance.

Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday

Szalay’s gift for inhabiting entirely different lives is as remarkable and spooky as ever.

Andrew Billen, The Times

Embedded in each story is a similar moment of jeopardy, disrupting the illusion to remind us how “normal life” is as unlikely and precarious as flight… Each chapter is extremely short, and yet, with impressive economy, Szalay establishes both a new character and sense of security, only to shatter it with a swift, surprising reveal.

Claire Lowdon, Times Literary Supplement

There’s barely a story here which isn’t in some way engaging and absorbing, the author’s compassion and involvement with characters shining through even in times of deepest isolation.

Alastair Mabbott, The Herald

Each story is wonderfully imagined, with a pleasing absence of authorial sermonising. Ambitious and haunting, these expertly executed vignette – confident in their concision and control – seem hard to improve upon.

Jude Cook

What Szalay does so well is the minute-by-minute apprehension of the close-up world…combined…with an impressively global vision… It’s part of Szalay’s genius that he can encompass the distance between the two.

Justine Jordan, Guardian

As Szalay consistently uproots his reader, proliferating characters and locations, the collection could be seen as an experiment in the limits of sympathy… the perfect foil to some heart-stoppingly beautiful prose.

Sophie Ratcliffe, Daily Telegraph

Powerful stuff… incisive writing.

Rob Doyle, Irish Times

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    December 3, 2018

    Jonathan Cape

    144 pages

    RRP $24.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    December 6, 2018

    Vintage Digital

    144 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks




On the way home from the hospital, she asked him if he wanted her to stay. ‘No, I’ll be fine,’ he said.

She asked him again later that afternoon. ‘I’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘You should go home. I’ll look at flights.’

‘Are you sure, Jamie?’

‘Yes, I’m sure. I’ll look at flights,’ he said again, and he already had his laptop open.

She stood at the window, unhappily eyeing the street. The view of semi-detached Notting Hill villas and leafless little trees was very familiar to her now. She had been there for more than a month, living in her son’s flat while he was in hospital. In January he had been told he had prostate cancer – hence the weeks of radiotherapy in St Mary’s. The doctor had said they would now wait a month and then do some scans to see if the treatment had been successful.

Continue Reading

Also by David Szalay