Last Day (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Domenica Ruta

Spiegel & Grau, 9780525510819, 272pp.

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (5/27/2019)

List Price: 27.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK • The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in “a darkly glittering novel” (The New York Times) that brings to mind Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles.

“A beautifully written, thought-provoking book about life at the end.”—Refinery29

In Domenica Ruta’s profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet’s demise—and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last.

On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year’s Last Day BBQ—but he’s still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she’s been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar. 

With sparkling wit, verbal ingenuity, and wild imagination, Ruta has created an alternate world in which an ancient holiday brings into stark reflection our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, and fears. In this tour-de-force debut novel she has written a dazzling, haunting love letter to humanity and to our planet. 

Praise for Last Day

“In Ruta’s fiction debut, each May 28 people around the world gather to celebrate what could be the end of the world. The author chooses seven quite different characters, tied together in various ways (romantically, for one pair; orbiting Earth on a space station for three others). Her focus on individual needs and choices as disaster potentially looms gives her story emotional heft.”The Washington Post

“Domenica Ruta’s empathy is broad and deep, her prose fine-grained, her humor sharp but tender. Last Day is a life-affirming antidote to these pre-apocalyptic times.”—Teddy Wayne, author of Loner


About the Author

Domenica Ruta is the author of the celebrated New York Times bestselling memoir With or Without You, a darkly hilarious mother-daughter story and chronicle of a misfit nineties youth. A graduate of Oberlin College, Ruta holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. She has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, Blue Mountain Center, Jentel, and Hedgebrook. Her short fiction has appeared in the Boston Review, the Indiana Review, and Epoch. She lives in New York City.


Praise For Last Day: A Novel

“A darkly glittering novel . . . Ruta, who is also the author of a best-selling memoir, With or Without You, deeply sympathizes with the damaged and their worlds. . . . Despite the heavy subject matter, comic moments leaven the book.”The New York Times

“In this woven novel, we humans are love, are destruction, are wish and want. Domenica Ruta has created a portrait of humanity in a moment that is both the end and the beginning, and this novel is urgent and true and filled with such beauty.”—Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us

“Domenica Ruta’s empathy is broad and deep, her prose fine-grained, her humor sharp but tender. Last Day is a life-affirming antidote to these pre-apocalyptic times.”—Teddy Wayne, author of Loner

“Domenica Ruta has collected seven disconnected lives—each one heartbreaking and hilarious, flawed and exalted—and masterfully ties them together using rituals of loss and celebration. Last Day travels from outer space panoramas to palm-sized minutia, every paragraph punctuated with curious truths. I devoured this book and, much like the world itself, I didn’t want it to end.”—Adam Nemett, author of We Can Save Us All

Last Day is a galaxy unto itself, a profound and incisive slice of our world on the edge of its inevitable end from a brilliant voice in American fiction.”—Amelia Gray, author of Isadora

“After making a splash with her memoir, With or Without You, Ruta returns with an inventive first novel. . . . An entertaining and clever speculative tale.”Booklist

“A beautiful portrait of humanity in the shadow of a dying Earth . . . Ruta delicately sketches the large cast of characters—as well as their dreams, fears, and failures—with care. She's able to pinpoint certain universal feelings with precision.”Kirkus Reviews