Synopses & Reviews
Meet the tourists, former classmates at Yale who, seven years later, must confront the people they've become while forging lives in Manhattan. David, a hedge fund wunderkind who forfeited idealism for wealth, hopes that a more fulfilling life lies ahead in the suburbs. His wife, the beautiful Samona, to whom David returns home nightly with nothing left for her, wonders whether her marriage is stripping away her best years. Ethan, a successful furniture designer with a magnetic sexuality, seeks something darker and more uncertain than the power lunches, needy family, and unsatisfying relationships that comprise his life. Rounding out the group is the story's unnamed narrator, a freelance reporter struggling to stay afloat financially, professionally, and emotionally who shares complicated histories with each of them.
When Ethan and Samona have a chance encounter at a gallery opening, they meet each other's needs. As our narrator traverses the city and gradually reconstructs the events that underlie the present circumstances, his own mysterious role comes into ever sharper focus. Only later, after David commissions Ethan to design some conference rooms at his firm and a secret triangle is formed, does our narrator begin to tie all the pieces together.
With The Tourists, Jeff Hobbs delivers a striking and stylish debut about the dark and sometimes destructive aspects of physical attraction and love, marital disillusionment, and the inevitable disappointments life can bring.
"An unnamed narrator details the post-Yale love triangle of three people much, much wealthier than he in Hobbs's Gatsby-meets-McInerney debut. Unlike Nick Carraway or the persistent 'You' of Bright Lights Big City, the speaker at the heart of this novel is more cipher than seer. A shiftless New York freelancer edging into his 30s, the narrator discovers that his Yalie friend handsome, gay Ethan Hoevel, famous designer of sleek contemporary furniture has left his boyfriend, Stanton Vaughn, to pursue a doomed relationship with their fellow alum the married (and female) Samona Taylor (neé Ashley). The narrator still carries a torch for Samona, and renews his friendship with Samona's husband, the also-Yalie Merrill Lynch trader David Taylor, mostly out of a morbid curiosity about Samona's philandering. Hobbs spends much of the novel recounting how everyone got where they are in the eight years following college, but the plot picks up in the last third, when Ethan's ne'er-do-well brother precipitates a crisis, and Ethan and Samona's affair has its reckoning. Hobbs convincingly portrays young, Ivied New Yorkers with money, but he leaves the narrator's feelings for Samona (and much else) largely unexplored, making the proceedings feel unresolved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]his work is so ham-handed in its construction...and so left-footed in its journalistic style that the characters would have been better represented by talking to Jerry Springer or appearing on a lame reality-TV show. Unconvincing." Kirkus Reviews
"At once witty and sincere, tender and brutal and funny funny funny Jeff Hobbs's The Tourists is an irresistible love story and marks the debut of a major new talent." Adam Davies, author of The Frog King
"In The Tourists, Jeff Hobbs introduces us to a world where educated and ambitious young Manhattanites compete for the ultimate souvenirs. It's a world where sexual power trumps intimacy, status counts for more than self-awareness and achievement takes the place of accountability. This is an intriguing, unnerving novel, embedded with devastating secrets gradually revealed." Amanda Filipacchi, author of Love Creeps
"With a deft hand, Jeff Hobbs goes deep into the core of young New York, gracefully detailing the longings, hunger, and achingly realistic heartbreaks of a generation at loose ends. The Tourists is a captivating debut." Allison Lynn, author of Now You See It
"As they struggle through life in the city, these characters orbit success and each other dangerously. In The Tourists, Jeff Hobbs makes an auspicious debut, showing himself to be a smart and surprisingly seasoned hand." Ron Carlson, author of A Kind of Flying
"[A]n impressive debut in which keen insights are often strewn amid the narrative like shiny pennies on a dirty sidewalk." Boston Globe
Our unnamed narrator, a journalist, picks up the story of his three former classmates from Yale as they're all nearing thirty. David and Samona have been together since junior year, and have now settled into the routine of being married. Ethan whose talent and ease at life has never been enough to sustain him, who is looking for something darker and more uncertain first captivated our narrator during college when they struck up a special relationship. As our narrator and Ethan became closer, our narrator's love for the beautiful, exotic Samona never waned.
Who's happy? Not Ethan, with his success as a designer and his magnetic sexuality. Not David, who wonders whether a better life lies ahead in the suburbs or behind on the track field. Not Samona, to whom David returns home nightly from his hedge fund job with nothing left for her. When Ethan and Samona come together during a gallery opening, they meet each others needs. Only later, after David commissions Ethan to design some conference rooms at his firm and a secret triangle is formed, does our narrator tie all the pieces together.
About the Author
Jeff Hobbs graduated with a BA in English language and literature from Yale in 2002, where he was awarded the Willets and Meeker prizes for his writing. Hobbs spent three years in New York and Tanzania while working with the African Rainforest Conservancy. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife.