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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 person’s 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, operateswith similarly dubious resultsin our world.
Peter Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, was 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, Interview, 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. He’s currently a writer-in-residence at the Richard Hugo House and at Seattle Arts and Lectures. He lives in Seattle, WA.