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.