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Publisher's Summary

A New York Times Editor's Choice! 

One of Booklist’s Top 10 Historical Fiction Novels of 2022

One of the LA Times's 10 Books to Add to Your Reading List

One of Book Culture's Most Anticipated Reads

“A bighearted, widescreen American tale.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Masterpiece…the quintessential Great American Novel.”—Booklist (starred)

“A vivid mosaic.”—BookPage (starred)

Jonathan Evison’s Small World is an epic novel for now. Set against such iconic backdrops as the California gold rush, the development of the transcontinental railroad, and a speeding train of modern-day strangers forced together by fate, it is a grand entertainment that asks big questions.  

The characters of Small World connect in the most intriguing and meaningful ways, winning, breaking, and winning our hearts again. In exploring the passengers’ lives and those of their ancestors more than a century before, Small World chronicles 170 years of American nation-building from numerous points of view across place and time. And it does it with a fullhearted, full-throttle pace that asks on the most human, intimate scale whether it is truly possible to meet, and survive, the choices posed—and forced—by the age.

The result is a historical epic with a Dickensian flair, a grand entertainment that asks whether our nation has made good on its promises. It dazzles as its characters come to connect with one another through time. And it hits home as it probes at our country’s injustices, big and small, straight through to its deeply satisfying final words.

©2021 Jonathan Evison (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

A New York Times Editor's Pick | An Amazon Best of the Month pick in Literature and Fiction | One of Christian Science Monitor's 10 Best Books of January | One of the LA Times's 10 Books to Add to Your Reading List | One of Book Culture's Most Anticipated Reads 

“Evison’s writing is best when his powerful feelings for injustice and privilege grate against one another…Small World feels like a big statement about America…and it’s filled with weighty ideas and worthy commentary on oppression and racism.”—Washington Post 

“The novel is easy to love in part because it deals in generosity and hope…Small World is ambitious, showing our interconnectedness across time, place and cultures.”New York Times Book Review 

"A modern classic. The book is a vast yet intimate tale about the American dream, and the people for whom the vision is yet unfulfilled."—Christian Science Monitor

What listeners say about Small World

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The Face of Americans

This book tied this country together from its inception until now. A person from each ethnic group from the past beautifully tied to same family now with drama and excitement. I loved reading this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Many families

Small World encompasses the stories of many families, linking current members with those who lived in the 19th century starting in the 1850s. Stories are interwoven from the 1850s to 2019. The author does not complete every family's story, leaving the reader to decide, for example, how a small beautiful blue locket moves from one family in the 19th century to eventually reach, through generations, a member of another family in the twenty-first. There is a sadness overriding the narrative with a desire to know more about the past and the future. It is a story of American life portrayed like a movie with flashbacks and without projections into the future,

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Great sick listen Lol

Have had pneumonia this story was a great entertainment’pill’

Grand narration and great mix of story lines

1 person found this helpful

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The American journey

What a wonderful story of Americans finding their way through challenges and hardships of immigration and survival. The narration is very good. The novel just terrific.

I highly recommend this.

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Our American history

Challenging historical review of our ancestors; their struggles & their courage, Their impact on our lives.

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Loved the narrator!

The narrator did a great job distinguishing so many personalities without making them sound silly.

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Amazing story

Loved every character, each adventure - especially how the tied together! I'm looking forward to my next adventure by the author!

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Amazing Journeys

The only negative I have is that it was way too short. I wanted to hear years more about all the characters.

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A tale of the roots of America

Excellent construct of the stories of the varied people that make America. I loved it. Wonderfully read.

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Tremendously entertaining

I just would’ve liked to know a little bit more about how each character’s story ends, but I have to admire the way the author left it up to the reader’s imagination.