Peter Mountford

Author of
  • The Dismal Science
    Tin House Books (01/14)

Peter Mountford grew up in Washington, DC, apart from three years in Sri Lanka during the early stages of the Sri Lankan civil war. In 1999, Peter earned a BA in International Relations, and then spent two years as the token liberal at a think tank. For most of that time, he lived in Ecuador and wrote about Ecuador’s economy.

Since graduating from the University of Washington’s MFA program in 2006, Peter’s short fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices 2008, Conjunctions, The Normal School, Michigan Quarterly Review, Seattle Review, Phoebe, and Boston Review, where he won second place in the 2007 contest, judged by George Saunders. In addition to writing op-eds for numerous national newspapers, he has published personal essays in Salon, Granta, and The Atlantic online. A two-time fellow of Yaddo, he has recently won grants from The Elizabeth George Foundation, Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, and 4Culture.

Peter’s first novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011 and has been named one of the best books of 2011 by Seattle Times, The Nervous Breakdown, and CultureMob.

His first original screenplay, “I Am Not Werner Erhard,” co-written with Steven Schardt, was selected for the 2009 Film Independent Screenwriter’s Lab. He regularly teaches creative writing classes at the Richard Hugo House and elsewhere. He currently lives in Seattle with his wife and child.

Books by Peter

The Dismal Science

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 for what to do with himself. The story 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.

Praise for The Dismal Science

[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.

Publisher's Weekly (Starred), September 2013

A savvy, fast-paced second novel…a bracingly intelligent work.

Kirkus Reviews, October 2013

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

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
Read More

Buy The Dismal Science