For the past few years, I have been lucky enough to read a debut novel from an emerging talent that always comes to define the reading year for me. In 2013, that book was Rivers by Michael Farris Smith. In 2014, it was Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. In 2015, it was City on fire by Garth Risk Hallberg. And last year, it was The Nix by Nathan Hill. And while there are still a few months left in the year, and at least two dozen books left to read, it seems that THE book for me this year is going to be Brendan Mathews’ debut, The World of Tomorrow. It is a spellbinding, sweeping novel about pre-WWII New York, filled with action, suspense, tragedy and humor. It juggles quite a few characters over its 549 pages, but rarely misses a beat and ties everything together in a nice heart-warming package. On the back page, one of the reviews compares it to The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer-prize winning novel, which is a fair comparison. Chabon’s novel takes place over years while this one takes place over a single, heart-stopping week, but I find this book to be quite a bit better. Other books that I couldn’t stop thinking about were Kevin Baker’s The Big Crowd, which takes place during a similar time period and covers a few similar themes (again, I liked this book better) and Lehane’s Coughlin trilogy, another book about this time period, where the American dream reached its apex, its low point a kind of rebirth in the span of a few short decades. It begins not in New York or America, even, but on the Britannic, a ship sailing from Europe to America. On board are two imposters, brothers who have just stolen a small fortune from the IRA and left a blown up building and four dead bodies in their wake. They are the older, charming Francis, an escaped convent, and the wounded and damaged Michael, himself escaping from a convent for future priests and, because of the blast, is followed around by the ghost of the recently deceased WB Yeats. They are headed to New York to meet their elder brother Michael, a professional musician with his own set of problems. Over the next week, which takes place while the 1939 World’s Fair is in full swing, each of these three brothers, along with a handful of disenchanted, displaced and disenfranchised people, including a man sent to kill Francis, an ex-pat photographer whose fearing being sent back to Nazi-occupied Prague and an emotionally frayed heiress who falls victim to one of Francis’ scheme, will come to terms with their action, lose themselves and, if they are lucky, find a way back towards something familiar and possibly wonderful. I won’t spoiled what happens or what Francis is forced to do or the final few pages, which are as pitch perfect as you can get, but all of it is the stuff of great, heavyweight fiction, the kind you want to never end.