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A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalismby Peter Mountford
Synopses & Reviews
Half Chilean, half Russian, 27-year-old American Gabriel Francisco de Boya has never felt like he belonged anywhere — until he moves to La Paz in 2005, just before the tumultuous election that resulted in Evo Morales becoming Bolivia's first indigenous president. Covertly working for a notoriously unscrupulous hedge fund, Gabriel poses as a journalist in order to ferret out insider political and financial information so that the fund can generate profit from the country's political upheaval. His work is made more complicated by a burgeoning love affair with Lenka, the new president's idealistic press liaison, as well as his mother's constant moral presence as a leftist political activist. In Bolivia, where Gabriel lives at the sharpest crossroads of privilege and poverty, his otherwise sensible motivations are tested by extraordinary circumstance.
In the tradition of Martin Amis, Joshua Ferris and Sam Lipsyte — only set against the stunning mountainous backdrop of La Paz and interspersed with Bolivia's sad history of stubborn survivalPeter Mountford examines the critical choices a young man makes as his world closes in on him.
"Mountford's choppy debut features crudely drawn characters maneuvering against a backdrop of compelling fictionalized reportage. At the end of 2005, Gabriel de Boya, once an idealistic journalist, is living in Bolivia and working as a extravagantly compensated scout for a hedge fund, the Calloway Group, which is concerned about president-elect Evo Morales's plans for the country's oil and gas industries. Gabriel's attempts to exploit information about Morales's plans become complicated by a burgeoning romance with Morales's press secretary and by his divergence from his own earlier principles and his family's left-wing legacy. The Bolivian setting is colorful and engaging, as are the financial maneuverings, but the moral conflicts practically flash in neon, while minor characters are hobbled by convoluted or implausible backstories (Gabriel's mother, for example, before becoming a respected academic, fled Chile for the Soviet Union, and then defected to the United States; elsewhere, a Buddhist monk turned billionaire mining mogul resembles an 'over-the-top supervillain in a James Bond movie'). Most problematic, though, is Gabriel, whose fate of embodying so many conflicts and contradictions leaves him feeling more like a construct than a person. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"The Bolivian setting is colorful and engaging, as are the financial maneuverings." Publishers Weekly
"[T]he novel holds the reader's interest to the end....[Mountford's] affectionate portrayal of Bolivia is probably the book's strongest point." Library Journal
"This is a solid read that is both adventurous and thought-provoking on the themes of racial identity, South Americans, politics, and wealth." Booklist
"A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a terrific debut novel — smart, moving, beautifully written. Peter Mountford's parable of the voracious global economy reminded me of Graham Greene's The Quiet American in its clear-eyed depiction of the realpolitik of our age. Jess Walters, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets
On his first assignment for a rapacious hedge fund, Gabriel embarks to Bolivia at the end of 2005 to ferret out insider information about the plans of the controversial president-elect. If Gabriel succeeds, he will get a bonus that would make him secure for life. Standing in his way are his headstrong mother, herself a survivor of Pinochet’s Chile, and Gabriel’s new love interest, the president’s passionate press liaison. Caught in a growing web of lies and questioning his own role in profiting from an impoverished people, Gabriel sets in motion a terrifying plan that could cost him the love of all those he holds dear. In the tradition of Martin Amis, Joshua Ferris, and Sam Lipsyte — set against the stunning mountainous backdrop of La Paz and interspersed with Bolivia’s sad history of stubborn survival — Peter Mountford examines the critical choices a young man makes as his world closes in on him.
Set in Bolivia at the time of the election of President Evo Morales, the novel tells the story of a young man's moral journey as he works for an unscrupulous hedge fund while pretending to be a freelance journalist.
About the Author
An avid traveler and near-fluent Spanish speaker, Peter Mountford's first job was with a think tank in Ecuador, where he discovered the nonprofit secretly operated a hedge fund and was profiting from his research — inspiration for A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism. Mountford has lived in Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles, as well as Scotland, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, and Southern Mexico. His fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices 2008, Boston Review and Conjunctions.
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