"A masterfully crafted novel . Read more...
"A masterfully crafted novel . . . Comic, violent, and moving in equal measure." --John Irving
"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 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."
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- ISBN-13: 9780316382199
- ISBN-10: 0316382191
- Publisher: Little Brown and Company
- Publish Date: September 2017
- Page Count: 560
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
A pulsating prewar New York
BookPage Top Pick in Fiction, September 2017
New York City on the cusp of World War II is brought to glorious, messy life in Brendan Mathews’ sprawling debut saga. The Dempsey brothers—Francis, Michael and Martin—all left Ireland under clouds of trouble. But Martin has started a new life in New York, marrying into a powerful political family, with ambitions to become a groundbreaking jazz musician. The trouble begins when his brothers come calling, and it becomes clear that the past is about to catch up with the Dempsey clan.
Mathews deftly handles a large cast of characters in The World of Tomorrow. On a collision course with the Dempseys is an IRA killer, an ambitious photographer fleeing Nazi-dominated Europe and a troubled heiress, among others. Perhaps the most vibrant character of all, however, is New York itself. In hard-boiled prose that ranges from gossipy to poetic, Mathews takes us from humble Bronx homes to rowdy Manhattan jazz clubs, from grimy back alleys to palatial Fifth Avenue estates.
Looming over these interconnected lives is the 1939 World’s Fair, held in Queens and seen by many as a light of hope in an increasingly dark world. But just as Old-World troubles follow Mathews’ immigrants to the New World, so will the war in Europe inevitably involve America. Until then, the Dempsey brothers—and all of the characters who’ve become entangled in their lives—may have only one choice: kill or be killed.
The World of Tomorrow is a sweeping, impressive accomplishment. Perhaps it could have been 50 or so pages shorter, and the ghostly appearance of an Irish literary icon may push past the cusp of believability. Still, Mathews has written an insightful immigrant epic, not to mention a first-class literary thriller.