Last day A novel

Domenica Ruta

Book - 2019

"The fates of a cast of seemingly unconnected people converge during the celebration of an ancient holiday in a thought-provoking debut that brings to mind such novels as Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles. In Domenica Ruta's profoundly original debut novel, the end of the world comes every year. Or at least it's supposed to. On May 3, humanity comes together to anticipate the planet's demise--and to celebrate as if the day were truly their last. Sarah is a bookish teenager infatuated with Kurt, a tattoo artist, whom she met at her parents' Last Day celebration a year earlier. Kurt is still haunted with guilt over his role in the death of his young love and wants to make holiday amends to her family. Karen is a ...misfit with a dysfunctional background who works at the local YMCA, where she keeps getting into trouble--especially when she sets off to find a long-lost adoptive brother. Her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah's Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Kingdom of God, where she brings Karen on this fateful Last Day. Meanwhile, in space, a group of international astronauts--an American, a Russian, and a billionaire Japanese space tourist--observe Last Day from afar. With sparkling wit, dazzling vividness, and wild imagination, Last Day is an exciting introduction of a literary talent--and by the end a haunting meditation on the fate of humanity and our planet"--

Saved in:

1st Floor Show me where

FICTION/Ruta Domenica
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
1st Floor FICTION/Ruta Domenica Checked In
Dystopian fiction
New York : Spiegel & Grau 2019.
Main Author
Domenica Ruta (author)
First edition
Physical Description
258 pages ; 25 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by New York Times Review

CONVICTION, by Denise Mina. (Mulholland, $27.) Anna McDonald, at loose ends while her philandering husband takes their children on vacation, decides to clear an old friend's name after hearing him slandered on a true-crime podcast. Mina's incredible new mystery seems to have been written in a white-hot rage. THE GUARDED GATE: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, by Daniel Okrent. (Scribner, $32.) In 1920s America, a mix of nativist sentiment and pseudoscience led to the first major law curtailing immigration. Okrent focuses on eugenics, which argued that letting in people of certain nationalities and races would harm America's gene pool. FALL; OR, DODGE IN HELL, by Neal Stephenson. (Morrow/HarperCollins, $35.) Stephenson tackles big questions - what is reality? how might it be simulated? - via the tale of a billionaire whose mind survives in the digital world long after his physical death. A THOUSAND SMALL SANITIES: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, by Adam Gopnik. (Basic Books, $28.) This charming and erudite book challenges both authoritarian populists and illiberal leftists, arguing in favor of a liberal tradition that supports both social progress and individual liberty. LAST DAY, by Domenica Ruta. (Spiegel & Grau, $27.) Ruta's darkly glittering novel flits among characters - including a trio of astronauts, a 15-year-old girl and a tattoo artist - during the planet's final hours. Despite the heavy subject matter, comic moments leaven the book, and Ruta sprinkles in startling observations. THE BODY IN QUESTION, by Jill Ciment. (Pantheon, $24.95.) In this deliciously acerbic and intelligent novel, two jurors meet at a murder trial, and, sequestered at an Econo Lodge, begin a passionate affair with unexpected reverberations on their lives and the legal proceedings. Among the book's other pleasures, Ciment knowingly but matter-of-factly depicts class distinctions. THE way THE WAY WE EAT NOW: How the Food Revolution Has we eat now Transformed Our Lives, Our Bodies, and Our World, by Bee Wilson. (Basic Books, $30.) In this useful and informative book, a British journalist delves into the ways globalization has revolutionized our relationship THE BURIED: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution, by Peter Hessler. (Penguin Press, $28.) In stories of everyday life in Cairo, Hessler captures a country looking to make sense of what the Arab Spring has wrought. MIND FIXERS: Psychiatry's Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness, by Anne Harrington. (Norton, $27.95.) Harrington argues that the "biological revolution," which rejects Freud to seek a physical basis for mental illness, has overreached. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web:

Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [July 14, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review

After making a splash with her memoir, With or Without You (2013), Ruta returns with an inventive first novel. Ruta imagines that people have been observing Last Day on May 28th for centuries, coming together to celebrate life on Earth as though it might all end at any moment. They make amends to wronged loved ones and do things they've been putting off. Ruta follows a handful of loosely connected characters as yet another Last Day arrives. Sarah Moss, a teenager looking to distinguish herself in a sea of Sarahs, decides to seek out a much older tattoo artist she's smitten with to declare her affections. Oddball Karen loses her latest job over yet another transgression and decides what she needs to do is track down the adoptive brother who once was her only solace. And above it all floats Bear, an All-American astronaut marveling at the wonder of Earth from his perch in the international space station. The plights of some characters resonate more than others, but Ruta's first novel is an entertaining and clever speculative tale.=--Kristine Huntley Copyright 2019 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Ruta explores ideas of forgiveness and loneliness through the experiences of three characters on the titular holiday in this meandering, purposeless debut set in a time much like our present. Thomas "Bear" Clark is an American astronaut aboard the International Space Station who has become disconnected from his daughters and his ex-wife. Sarah Moss is a teenager discovering her sexuality through her curiosity-driven pursuit of an older man. Karen Donovan is a young woman from Boston with mental health issues and a troubled past who has few friends to lean on. The slow and overly contemplative exploration of the sparse events of each character's Last Day, an international holiday celebrating the end of the world, is frequently interrupted by the detailed and sentimental backstory of irrelevant characters. There's no conflict, the characters make few decisions, and nothing really happens. Though small connections among the protagonists are rewarding and Ruta offers convincing vignettes, readers will be underwhelmed by this bleak examination of humanity. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

What would you do on your last day on Earth...if there was a last day every year?Ruta's (With or Without You, 2013) debut novel centers around Last Day, a worldwide holiday to celebrate the Earth, prepare for the end of days, and atone for one's mistakes. The novel weaves together a seemingly disparate group of people as their lives overlap in small and large ways over the course of the holiday: Sarah, the anxious, bookish high schooler; Kurt, the middle-aged tattoo artist; Karen, the troubled loner; Rosette, the religious zealot; and Bear, Svec, and Yui, the international space travelers. Sarah travels to get tattooed by Kurt after having fallen in love with him during a family party the previous year. Kurt plans to atone for his past mistakes. Karen travels to find the last vestige of her family. Rosette joins a new religious movement. Bear, Svec, and Yui float through space together and apart. Ruta delicately sketches the large cast of charactersas well as their dreams, fears, and failureswith care. She's able to pinpoint certain universal feelings with precision. For example, when Sarah undergoes an underwhelming yet life-changing event, Ruta writes that "now she was alone and full of feelings that were at once ancient, almost inherent, and also brand-new." The novel falters in its final stretch when the plot becomes cluttered with too many secondary characters. Despite this, Ruta's talent shines when she writes about the natural world: "Long before there was sleep, there was night, Earth rolling away from the sun as a lover in a bed," and "Beauty remained. It had existed before, and always would, whether or not it could be borne."A beautiful portrait of humanity in the shadow of a dying Earth. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

"There she is," he whispered to himself, as if a little surprised to still see her twinkling in the darkness. It was universally agreed, Earth was always she. The astronauts needed to latch onto this umbilical pronoun, a reminder, while they were as far from home as one could be, that they were still human. The form she took was different for everyone. Some astronauts saw an eye, others thought of her as a jewel. Just today Bear saw something new: the blue head of a baby, slathered in a caul made of clouds, crowning from out of a black womb. Bear remembered his own daughters being born, and the happy terror of that first, sickening glimpse. It was the twenty-­sixth of May. He had completed six months of his mission on the ISS and was already preparing for his exit, still six more months away. He was a three-­hour ride from home, and though it was technically possible to make an early departure, no one in the short history of the International Space Station had ever deorbited before they were scheduled. What would it take, Bear wondered now, to justify an early exit? A medical emergency, or a family tragedy? What kind of calamity could he in good conscience withstand? Bear stopped himself. This kind of future-­tripping was dangerous. He knew that. He'd advised other astronauts at Johnson Space Center against the countdown mentality when preparing them for their missions. You can't stop the demons of isolation from knocking on your door, he'd say, but you can stop inviting them in for coffee. He decided to take his own advice and redirect this morbid longing into something more productive: drafting notes for the things he would say about this mission after landing. There would be a barrage of interviews, both in-­house and for publicity, and Bear put a lot of pressure on himself to say something no one had ever said before about the experience of space flight. This womb-­birth analogy was quotable, with potential to go viral in the media, just the kind of thing he needed to preserve. He reached for the pad and pencil attached by cords to his sleeve, catching the pad but missing the pencil. He reached again and missed it, again and then again. Entwined with the floating pad, it eluded his grasp like a tiny pet playing tag. "Got you," he said at last. He scribbled down his notes about the earth looking like a birth in progress, then immediately crossed them out. It was a stupid metaphor. He watched the sun rise over the earth for the eleventh time that day. The clouds unthreaded for a moment and he saw the staggering blue that could only be the shallow waters of the Caribbean. No, he decided, taking one last look at the earth before heading back to work. What he saw through the windows of the Cupola was so much more than any single human birth, more than any man could pin down with words. He pressed his hand against the thick glass. "There you are." She was the biggest thing in the galaxy from this perspective, though really just a pebble. Less than a pebble. But a pretty one, Bear thought, prettier than any other; he wasn't afraid to admit this most basic chauvinism--­to think of his home planet as better than all other bodies in space. She was his, after all. Or he was hers. He'd felt that on his first mission over a decade ago, and now on his second mission he felt it even more, a sense of humility so precious it dangled wildly on the edge of tragedy. His watch vibrated with a reminder that his break in the Cupola was up. He'd spent as many minutes as he could possibly spare in this Earth-­sick reverie. It was time to go. Excerpted from Last Day: A Novel by Domenica Ruta All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.