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Odds Against Tomorrow: A Novel Hardcover – April 2, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 1St Edition edition (April 2, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374224242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374224240
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Superstorm Sandy changed many landmarks on the East Coast and became a new benchmark for destruction. It also added to readers’ ability to suspend disbelief while reading this book. Set in a future rife with ecological disaster (like the destruction of Seattle by an earthquake), it stars mathematical prodigy Mitchell Zukor, son of a Kansas City slumlord. He turns his obsessive fear of disasters into the epitome of financial success in Manhattan until a category three hurricane makes a direct hit on New York City, at which point he is treated as a prophet. Mitchell progresses from the stereotype of the obsessed nerd—think handmade T-shirts of famous mathematicians like Fibonacci—to a more thoughtful human being, a transformation that echoes the narrative arc and underlying themes of the novel. This literary thriller is blessed with a propulsive plot, macabre humor, several richly developed characters, and serious ethical and philosophical issues, all lightly clothed in skillful writing. Highly recommended for readers of literary fiction with a political edge. --Ellen Loughran

Review

"This brilliantly conceived and extremely well-executed novel [is] the opposite of a disaster, a knockout of a book by a young writer to keep your eye on from now on."
--Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered

"Let's just, right away, recognize how prescient this charming, terrifying, comic novel of apocalyptic manners is...Rich is a gifted caricaturist and a gifted apocalyptist. His descriptions of the vagaries of both nature and human nature are stark, fresh, and convincing, full of surprise and recognition as both good comedy and good terror must be."
--Cathleen Schine, The New York Review of Books


"In an already uneasy age, Rich zeroes in on our collective anxiety with a story of wild-eyed ingenuity that is both meditative and propulsive, often simultaneously. With its fits of paranoia and eerily prescient scenario, this book is not comfortable reading, but it's also nearly impossible to put down."
--Kirkus Reviews


"Scarily prescient and wholly original."
--Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair


"This literary thriller is blessed with a propulsive plot, macabre humor, several richly developed characters, and serious ethical and philosophical issues, all lightly clothed in skillful writing. Highly recommended."
--Booklist


Praise for The Mayor’s Tongue

“A brilliantly told novel, by turns terrifying, touching, and wildly funny.” —Stephen King

“An author who could well become one of the defining writers of his generation.” —The Sunday Telegraph

“A spare masterpiece.” —The Boston Globe


More About the Author

Nathaniel Rich is the author of two novels: ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW and THE MAYOR'S TONGUE. His essays and short fiction have appeared in: Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, McSweeney's, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and The Paris Review. In 2005 he published a work of film criticism, SAN FRANCISCO NOIR: THE CITY IN FILM NOIR FROM 1940 TO THE PRESENT, which Martin Scorsese called "a fascinating work of criticism disguised as a guided tour around a great city." Rich lives in New Orleans.

Customer Reviews

This book is hopefully, partially science fiction.
Amelia Gremelspacher
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone thoughtful enough to entertain the notion that something's rotten in Denmark.
Happy Skeptic
Unfortunately the plot also becomes dull at this point in the book.
W. A. Carpenter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Amelia Gremelspacher TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mitchell lives in New York City which he considers to be like the collapse of civilization. He is a quant, which means he is one of those scary people who can analyze great quatitiies of data quickly and use esoteric formulas to extract information. I am not clear on all he does, but it is not at all necessary to the flow of the novel to be fluently conversant in all things quant. All you need to know is that their powers are quite spookily intense.

Mitchell has a clear and constant feeling of dread concerning the different scenarios that can occur to the globe and the human race. And he has quite specific statistics concerning their liklihood. To make this problem more personal to him, he has a quasi-relationship with a woman who has a heart condition that likewise can lose her life at any minute. The whole situation imparts feelings of cockroaches climbing his stomach. He is miserable and working as a nobody in insurance trying to determine indemnity for his bosses.

Comes the day, he goes to work for FutureWorld, selling calamity scenarios, and is a rising star. This book is darkly humorous, sly, and compelling. It probably is not for the naturally fearful reader, but it is definitely for everyone else. The sheer litany of eminent disasters becomes numbing in its utter terror. The characters shuttling to make financial gain in betting on probability of such events and attempting to avoid financial obligation or better yet gain, are familiar to our television screen as they pontificate on their own innocence.

This book is hopefully, partially science fiction. An event does occur that brings the process to a focus. I will not discuss it to avoid spoiler issues.
Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Portnoy VINE VOICE on April 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We've all seen this "Twilight Zone" episode: a doomsayer keeps warning of apocalypse; no one believes him; when at the end disaster finally strikes, it comes as vindication and relief.

This book is not like that. It's not a punchline: it's a real novel. It's not predictable. It's not apocalyptic. It feels more and more convincing, real, and grounded with each page. The writing is light, crisp and exact, like a stone skipping over water, but look close, and you will see a depth of erudition and true feeling.

The three-part structure of Nathaniel Rich's novel, as well as its ambition and technique, remind me of Don DeLillo's "White Noise." In that book, when disaster came, things got surreal, and the narrative twisted through a maze of mental mirrors. The book was virtuosic, but rang hollow: false comfort that the disaster will be mainly in our heads.

A quarter century later, we can no longer afford to believe that. While flirting with narrative voice and a touch of formalist symmetry, "Odds Against Tomorrow" commits to and remains faithful to realism. The characters deepen, and the landscape broadens, as the plot accelerates, and the suspense mounts. Finally comes a single page of surprising, sweet, piercing emotional impact. A moral is stated succinctly. The book ends.

It worked in the nineteenth century, and it works again in the twenty first, now that we've buried both Ronald Reagan and David Foster Wallace, and prefer to peer out from inside our heads at the world.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Happy Skeptic on April 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nathaniel Rich keenly observes trends current society is falling into/has been unconsciously enslaved by. Fear of litigation rather than wise reflection drives decisions. Inertia impels inaction. The short term is all that matters, of course, because the shareholders this quarter will disapprove anything that does not maximize profits. Profits Are Paramount — longterm thinking be damned.

Rich examines the question: so what comes after the impending semi-apocalypse? Is the tree-hugger mentality preferable to the corporate mentality? Post capitalism, how might one thrive? Part of his answer comes from a quote by David Goodis. "There is no such thing as courage. There's only fear. A fear of getting hurt and a fear of dying. That's why the human race has lasted so long." And part of his answer comes in the passage that begins, "...disorder always won in the end. The idea that man could order the world to his own design was the most pitiful fairy tale ever told."

Along the way I enjoyed powerful images Rich turned up, a smooth writing style that flowed from beginning to end and a page-turning story I did not want to end. As dystopian tales go, this one held at least a bit more hope than some. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone thoughtful enough to entertain the notion that something's rotten in Denmark.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Dariyanani on April 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I so very much wanted to love this book. And let me say first that it is utterly, beautifully written. The insight into human nature, the wit, the erudition, the prose itself, all breathtaking. The main character is fascinating and his obsession with the quantification as a method for contemplating mortality, developing him as a character and making some profound musings on our relationship with death...all fascinating. However, as with many books where the plot is conceived before hand and the characters forced into actions that support that plot, the story itself doesn't work. I found the New York disaster scenes flat and derivative and the plot wildly lurching from that point forward...it's all downhill once they leave the apartment. The central absent romance doesn't make sense as the plot develops...though it has a tender touch during the obsessive insights into Mitchell's office bound thoughts, which are the best parts of the book. I could barely finish this book and I didn't care what happened. Didn't care. And that's a shame, because it's a beautiful book and he's a beautiful writer, but at some point the story loses its authenticity. And becomes unoriginal, un-insightful and just plain boring. Can't wait to read The Mayor's Tongue though...this much talent with a better endgame could be spectacular.
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