Winner of the National Book Award • “Marvelous . . . You get lost in World’s Fair as if it were an exotic adventure. You devour it with the avidity usually provoked by a suspense thriller.”—The New York Times
Hailed by critics from coast to coast and by readers of all ages, this resonant novel is one of E.L. Doctorow’s greatest works of fiction. It is 1939, and even as the rumbles of progress are being felt worldwide, New York City clings to remnants of the past, with horse-drawn wagons, street peddlers, and hurdy-gurdy men still toiling in its streets. For nine-year-old Edgar Altschuler, life is stoopball and radio serials, idolizing Joe DiMaggio, and enduring the conflicts between his realist mother and his dreamer of a father. The forthcoming Word’s Fair beckons, an amazing vision of American automation, inventiveness, and prosperity—and Edgar Altschuler responds.
A marvelous work from a master storyteller, World’s Fair is a book about a boy who must surrender his innocence to come of age, and a generation that must survive great hardship to reach its future.
Praise for World’s Fair
“Something close to magic.”—Los Angeles Times
“World’s Fair is better than a time capsule; it’s an actual slice of a long-ago world, and we emerge from it as dazed as those visitors standing on the corner of the future.”—Anne Tyler
“Doctorow has managed to regain the awed perspective of a child in this novel of rare warmth and intimacy. . . . Stony indeed in the heart that cannot be moved by this book.”—People
“Fascinating . . . exquisitely rendered details of a lost way of life.”—Newsweek
“Wonderful reading.”—USA Today
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
E. L. Doctorow’s wonderfully immersive historical novels bring us into the lives of everyone from ragtime composer Scott Joplin to Manhattan gangster Dutch Schultz. But in World’s Fair, the iconic author turns the spotlight on an average boy. Edgar Altschuler’s Bronx childhood is bookended by two massive historical events: the stock market crash of 1929 and the epic World’s Fair 10 years later. Mentored by his big brother Donald and wrangled by his domineering mother, Rose, young Edgar gets into trouble and goes on adventures that are whimsically idyllic and sometimes a little dangerous. One day, an ominous chalk drawing of a swastika shows up on his family’s garage door—signaling that Edgar’s carefree days of stickball are numbered. Doctorow’s gorgeous attention to detail celebrates the little things in life, like a well-made slingshot or a perfectly roasted sweet potato. This semiautobiographical tale will transport you to another time and remind you that anyone’s life can be fascinating.
The part about the immigrants was inspiring but there wasn’t enough about the actual fait to warrant the tirle. And the praise of the well-debunked “promise” of Socialism rendered this book irrelevant. The few chapters about the fair were captivating, making me envious of those able to go! But otherwise, I didn’t care for it.