Jonathan Coe

Expo 58

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A comic spy caper and international love story, set in Europe in the middle of the last century, Expo 58 is the latest sublime creation by Jonathan Coe, hailed by Nick Hornby as “probably the best English novelist of his generation.”

Handsome, unassuming Thomas Foley is an employee at the Central Office of Information whose particular biography (Belgian mother, pub-owning father) makes him just the man to oversee the “authentic British pub” that will be erected at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. It’s the first major expo after World War II, meant to signify unity, but there’s inevitable intrigue involving the U.S. and Soviet delegations. In the shadow of an immense, imposingly modern structure called the Atomium, the married Foley becomes both agent and pawn—when he’s not falling head over heels for Anneke, his Belgian hostess.

Funny, fast-paced, and genuinely moving, Expo 58 is both a perfect evocation of a moment in history and the welcome return of one of today’s finest novelists.
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302 printed pages
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Quotes

    Olga Shakinahas quoted5 years ago
    ‘Mr Chersky had the sachet.’
    ‘He had the sachet and the packet.’
    ‘He had the sachet and the packet in his pocket.’
    ‘He had the sachet and the packet in the pocket of his jacket.’
    Olga Shakinahas quoted6 years ago
    ‘I always thought that Russians said Na zdorovie when they were making a toast,’ she said.
    ‘A popular myth,’ Andrey explained. ‘We say it to foreigners, because – knowing no better – they say it to us, and we are too polite to embarrass them.
    Olga Shakinahas quoted6 years ago
    Andrey has a deep love for all things British. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Sherlock Holmes stories, seems to have committed the London Underground map to memory and has developed a passion for – of all things – Smith’s potato crisps, of which Mr Rossiter keeps a steady supply. He collects the little salt sachets, which he says he is going to show to his nieces and nephews when he returns to Moscow.

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