Synopses & Reviews
Vincenzo D'Orsi is a middle-aged vice president at the World Bank with a comfortable if uneventful existence. A recent widower, he spends his days immersed in the nuances of Latin American fiscal policy or hunched over a chessboard across from his only real friend, a brusk and irritable columnist for the Washington Post
. When a seemingly minor argument with a colleague erupts into scandal, Vincenzo publicly quits his job and burns every bridge to his former life. His career abandoned, Vincenzo struggles to rebuild his identity, and just when he seems to be righting the course, he once again abruptly and inexplicably sabotages himself. Only then does the unusual nature of his strategy begin to emerge.
Although the central drama is political international aid to Bolivia is a major plot element, and several real-life political figures make appearances in the story The Dismal Science is ultimately a meditation on the fragile nature of identity: the terrifying speed with which a person's sense of self can be annihilated. The book explores the limits of rationality in human existence; it is at once a study of a man attempting to apply his reason to the muddle of life and a book about how that same ostensible rationality, and the mathematics of finance in particular, operates with similarly dubious results in our world.
"Mountford has written a distinctively entertaining novel that illuminates the spiritual odyssey of a contemporary Dodsworth." Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A savvy, fast-paced novel...a bracingly intelligent novel." Kirkus
"Mountford pulls off impressive feats of empathy: he creates compelling characters out of self-interested economists, and makes the nuances of financial policy the 'dismal science' of the book's title accessible to lay readers." The Collagist
The Dismal Science is exuberant art, a deep, moving comedy about grief, guilt, and the heart's geopolitics. Mountford writes with soul and style and makes the plight of his protagonist count.” Sam Lipsyte, New York Times bestselling author of The Ask
"Quietly wrenching, sharply drawn and completely un-put-downable. With The Dismal Science, Peter Mountford asserts himself as our generations most significant business-world ombudsman. A deft and unflinching exponent of the human side of a polarizing world few of us actually understand." Tea Obreht, New York Times bestselling author of The Tiger's Wife
The Dismal Science
tells of a middle-aged vice president at the World Bank, Vincenzo D'Orsi, who publicly quits his job over a seemingly minor argument with a colleague. A scandal inevitably ensues, and he systematically burns every bridge to his former life. After abandoning his career, Vincenzo, a recent widower, is at a complete loss as to what to do with himself. The story follows his efforts to rebuild his identity without a vocation or the company of his wife.
An exploration of the fragile nature of identity, The Dismal Science reveals the terrifying speed with which a persons sense of self can be annihilated. It is at once a study of a man attempting to apply his reason to the muddle of life and a book about how that same ostensible rationality, and the mathematics of finance in particular, operates with similarly dubious results in our world.
About the Author
Peter Mountford's debut novel, A Young Mans Guide to Late Capitalism
, was the winner of the Washington State Book Award and a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. NPR.ORG selected it for the Books We Like” series, the Daily Beast
picked it as a great summer read,” and the editors at Kindle named it one of the most exciting books of the season; it was also featured in the New York Times Magazine
, Vanity Fair
, Town and Country
, and the Wall Street Journal
, among other venues.
Mountford's work on The Dismal Science has won grants from 4Culture, Seattle's Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Elizabeth George Foundation. The Corporation of Yaddo awarded him its 2010 Wallace Fellowship for a Distinguished Writer so that he could work on the book. His short fiction and essays have appeared in the Atlantic, Best New American Voices 2008, Conjunctions, Salon, Granta, ZYZZYVA, and the Boston Review. Hes currently a writer-in-residence at the Richard Hugo House and at Seattle Arts and Lectures. He lives in Seattle, Washington.