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The World of Tomorrow (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

You won’t be able to put this book down! The World of Tomorrow is a whirlwind dive into prewar New York City, written with the same frenetic pace as the boozy jazz age in which it’s set. Author Brendan Mathews dazzles with his debut which follows three Irish brothers reunited (under terrible circumstances) in the bustling city that never sleeps, while wrestling with themes that could be heavy but are buoyed by delightfully wry wit: the pitfalls of pursuing the American Dream, the looming advent of WWII, the complexities of being an immigrant in the supposed melting pot, and the true meaning of family. Entertainment abounds as our rotating protagonists stay one step ahead of trouble. With a serpentine plot that never loses its thread, and a payoff worth the page count, The World of Tomorrow is sure to be a hit this autumn, especially with fans of Michael Chabon.

— Kelly

September 2017 Indie Next List

“The World of Tomorrow is so wise and so ambitious in scope, with characters so complex, sympathetic, and real, that you will be hard-pressed to set it aside at a reasonable hour. Mathews' success in rendering the physicality of New York City just before WWII, the complexities of the Irish-American experience, and the first awful rumblings of the Holocaust, along with all the details of class, race, family, tragedy, comedy, heroics, and jazz, make this a truly immersive reading experience. With beautiful prose, a plot that manages strand after strand of narrative without ever becoming knotted or coming undone, and a cast of characters as alive as any on the page, this novel is a masterpiece.”
— Robert McDonald, The Book Stall At Chestnut, Winnetka, IL


"Entertaining . . . outsized . . . A big, expressive debut." --Wall Street Journal
"As rich and raucous as the city it celebrates." --O., The Oprah Magazine

"Admirably fearless . . . Mathews has talent in buckets." --New York Times Book Review

One of Entertainment Weekly's 20 Must-Read Books of the Fall
One of the New York Post's 15 Books You Won't Be Able to Put Down This Fall

One of Southern Living's 50 Heart-Pounding Historical Novels to Read Right Now

One of Kirkus's 13 Debuts & Breakthroughs That Live Up to the Hype

A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

One whirlwind week of love, blackmail, and betrayal in teeming prewar New York

June 1939. Francis Dempsey and his shell-shocked brother, Michael, are on an ocean liner from Ireland bound for their brother Martin's home in New York City, having stolen a small fortune from the IRA. During the week that follows, the lives of these three brothers collide spectacularly with big-band jazz musicians, a talented but fragile heiress, a Jewish street photographer facing a return to Nazi-occupied Prague, a vengeful mob boss, and the ghosts of their own family's revolutionary past.

When Tom Cronin, an erstwhile assassin forced into one last job, tracks the brothers down, their lives begin to fracture. Francis must surrender to blackmail or have his family suffer fatal consequences. Michael, lost and wandering alone, turns to Lilly Bloch, a heartsick artist, to recover his decimated memory. And Martin and his wife, Rosemary, try to salvage their marriage and, ultimately, the lives of the other Dempseys. Meanwhile, with the Depression receding, all of New York is suffused with an electric feeling of hope, caught up in the fervor of the World's Fair and eager for good times after a decade of deprivation.

From the smoky jazz joints of Harlem to the opulent Plaza Hotel, from the garrets of vagabonds and artists in the Bowery to the backroom warrens and shadowy warehouses of mobsters in Hell's Kitchen, Brendan Mathews brings the prewar metropolis to vivid, pulsing life. The sweeping, intricate, and ambitious storytelling throughout this remarkable debut reveals an America that blithely hoped it could avoid another catastrophic war and focus instead on the promise of the World's Fair: a peaceful, prosperous "World of Tomorrow."

About the Author

Brendan Mathews, a Fulbright Scholar to Ireland, has published stories in Glimmer Train, the Virginia Quarterly, and the Cincinnati Review, among other publications, and his fiction has twice appeared in The Best American Short Stories. He lives with his wife and their four children in Lenox, Massachusetts, and teaches at Bard College at Simon's Rock.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780316382199
ISBN-10: 0316382191
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: September 5th, 2017
Pages: 560
Language: English


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