A middle-aged vice-president at the World Bank Vincenzo D'Orsi 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 for what to do with himself. The Dismal Science follows his efforts to rebuild his identity without a career 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, operates—with similarly dubious results—in our world.
EARLY REVIEWS FOR THE DISMAL SCIENCE
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY (Starred): "[The Dismal Science] intelligently explores Vincenzo's roiled inner life. In the end, Mountford has written a distinctively entertaining novel that illuminates the spiritual odyssey of a contemporary Dodsworth."
KIRKUS REVIEWS: "A savvy, fast-paced second novel...a bracingly intelligent work."
THE COLLAGIST: "Mountford reminds us that one of the novelist's first duties involves keeping his antennae up, telling us something about the motions and machinations of our age. Mountford does all this with pace, wit, and a keen sense of dramatic tension—always ratcheting up the pressure on poor Vincenzo."
ADVANCED PRAISE FOR THE DISMAL SCIENCE
"In his fiercely intelligent second novel, Mountford examines, with wry humor and sympathy leavened with a realistic accounting of Vincenzo D’Orsi’s flaws and failings, the repercussions of a decision made in haste and—perhaps—regretted at leisure. Or not regretted. Who could have ever predicted that an economist at the World Bank could be such a terrific main character? I absolutely loved The Dismal Science.”
—NANCY PEARL, NPR commentator and author of the Book Lust series
"Quietly wrenching, sharply drawn and completely un-put-downable. With The Dismal Science, Peter Mountford asserts himself as our generation’s 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, author of The Tiger's Wife
"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, author of The Ask and The Fun Parts
“Peter Mountford’s elegantly written The Dismal Science—an advance on his superb first novel—is an extremely impressive imagining by a relatively young writer into a relatively old man’s life. It also is a brilliant extrapolation of the economist’s ‘dismal science’ into a metaphor for the difficult fate of any living, breathing, dying human being.”
—DAVID SHIELDS, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead
"The Dismal Science is a beautiful novel: stark, powerful, and life-affirming. Vincenzo's haunting journey will stay with me for a very, very long time."
—GARTH STEIN, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain