Matthew Pearl’s first three novels, The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens have been translated into more than thirty languages and have more than one million copies in print combined. Because of his authorship of The Last Dickens about the publication of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Pearl's appearance is made in conjunction with UNCG's “A Dickens of a Celebration.” The appearance is sponsored by the University Libraries and the Center for Creative Writing in the Arts at UNCG.
Critics have likened Pearl to E. L. Doctorow, and he has been described as “at the very forefront of contemporary novelists” (Caleb Carr), “sparkling with erudition” (Janet Maslin, The New York Times), and “the shining star of literary fiction” (Dan Brown). With his new novel THE TECHNOLOGISTS, Pearl expands his repertoire to bring the same suspense to nineteenth-century science that he did to three of literary history’s greatest mysteries.
In nineteenth-century Boston, a war exists between the past and present, tradition and technology. On an early April morning, a fiery cataclysm in the harbor throws commerce into chaos, as ships’ instruments spin inexplicably out of control. Soon after, another mysterious catastrophe devastates the heart of the city. On a former marshy wasteland, the daring Massachusetts Institute of Technology is rising, its mission to harness science for the benefit of all and to open the doors of opportunity to everyone of merit.
The shocking disasters cast a pall over M.I.T. and provoke assaults from all sides—rival Harvard, labor unions, and a sensationalistic press. With their first graduation and the very survival of their groundbreaking college now in doubt, a band of the Institute’s best and brightest students—including “charity scholar” Marcus Mansfield, a quiet Civil War veteran and one-time machinist; Robert Richards, the bluest of Beacon Hill bluebloods; class genius Edwin Hoyt; and Institute’s lone, ostracized female student Ellen Swallow—secretly come together to save innocent lives and track down the truth, armed with ingenuity and their unique scientific training. Working against their small secret society, from within and without, are the arrayed forces of a stratified culture determined to resist change at all costs and a dark mastermind bent on the utter destruction of the city. THE TECHNOLOGISTS is a dazzling journey into a dangerous world where the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening new concept and where the America we know today begins to shimmer into being.
Pearl will appear and sign books at UNCG at 7 pm on Thursday, March 1 in the Virginia Dare Room in the Alumni House at UNCG. The event is free and open to the public.