This hilarious and profound debut for fans of Mostly Dead Things and Goodbye, Vitamin, follows a morbidly anxious young woman—“the kindhearted heroine we all need right now” (Courtney Maum, New York Times bestselling author)—who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.
Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.
A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humor, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.
About the author
Emily R. Austin was born in Ontario, Canada, and received a writing grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts in 2020. She studied English literature and library science at Western University. She currently lives in Ottawa. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is her first novel.
“A witty and macabre story about a character who is struggling to find herself in this world and wants nothing more than for her ruminating thoughts on death to stop. Quirky and unique. Austin has the reader inside Gilda’s head and she has done an excellent job at portraying anxiety through Gilda’s thoughts. Austin’s writing style is unique and manages to keep the reader flying through pages, needing to know what’s going to happen next. If Everyone in This Room is any indication of the storyteller that Austin is, then we can’t wait to see what she writes next.”
— Cloud Lake Literary
“My god—this book starts with a literal bang and keeps on going, straight through the heart of American anxiety, exploring the self-imposed experience of being a terrified human in a world with other terrified humans. It’s so vivid and so good.”
— AMBER SPARKS, author of And I Do Not Forgive You: Stories and Other Revenges
“[A] dryly comedic Canadian debut.”
— Globe and Mail
“There’s some strange magic at play here. A book about the anxiety of being someone else that possesses a genuine warmth and comfort? A book about death and depression that’s laugh-out-loud funny? A book written in straightforward unadorned prose that nonetheless feels entirely distinctive? I don’t know how Emily Austin does what she does, and honestly I don’t care. I just want more.”
— SEAN ADAMS, author of The Heap
“This queer and hilarious debut novel from Emily Austin promises plenty of existential anxiety, awkwardness, and second-hand embarrassment.”
— Shrapnel Magazine
“We don’t deserve an author as insightful and empathetic as Emily Austin. Through the inner dialogue of Gilda, our painfully human heroine, Austin connects us with the best and worst parts of being a person while reminding us that even our darkest moments can lead to extraordinary revelations. I missed Gilda as soon as I finished the last page, and am already counting down to Austin’s next book.”
— ANNE T. DONAHUE, author of Nobody Cares
“Emily Austin’s protagonist, Gilda—an atheist, animal-loving lesbian who has worried about death since childhood—spoke directly to the deepest, darkest parts of myself. Did I mention that she’s also hilarious? This is not just a tender-hearted story, it swerves like a thriller, and I couldn’t put it down.”
— SARA QUIN, musician and New York Times bestselling co-author of High School
“Fiercely insightful, strikingly contemporary, and laugh-out-loud funny. Austin’s intimate stream-of-consciousness narration makes flesh and blood her absurd, desperate, and deeply endearing protagonist. You will find yourself rooting for her throughout the wild hijinks that fill these pages.”
— EVA CROCKER, author of Scotiabank Giller Prize longlisted novel All I Ask
“Everyone in this book will touch your heart. Austin’s writing is spare yet exciting, each page sparkles with keen observation about the fleeting nature of life, yes, but also our profound ability to make lasting impact on those around us. I already can’t wait to read what she writes next.”
— STEVEN ROWLEY, New York Times bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus
“Gilda, Emily Austin’s anxious and endearing hero, is a dream. It’s impossible not to root for her as she navigates love, religion, mental health, and everything in between. Too often our heroes are bigmouths who take up outsized space in the world. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead redefines bravery, giving comfort to those who, like Gilda, struggle mightily with big hearts in a world that, to paraphrase the great Margaret Atwood, is full of bastards trying to get you down. Turn to any page in this lovely debut and you’ll meet a tsunami of joy.”
— ANDREW DAVID MacDONALD, bestselling author of When We Were Vikings
“Austin wrings plenty of hilarity from existential agony.”
— Quill & Quire
“Introducing the bumbling, anxious, helplessly kindhearted heroine we all need right now. Gilda might be an accidental Catholic, a lapsed lesbian, and an inept receptionist, but she’s awfully good at helping us reckon—hilariously, tenderly—with our impending deaths.”
— COURTNEY MAUM, New York Times bestselling author of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You and Touch
“A fresh and funny debut with a quirky deadpan narrator you can’t help rooting for. Her wry and endearing voice springs from every page as you turn them faster and faster. Bravo, Emily Austin! Comically brilliant.”
— TERRY FALLIS, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
“As a queer woman whose brain can be a terrifying place, I devoured this novel about a panic-ridden lesbian who hides her sexuality to work at a Catholic Church. While the narrator is anxious beyond measure, the prose is self-assured—brisk and effortless, moving through time and space with ease. At its core, the novel is about the fragility of human life, kept fresh with an intriguing mystery and subtle moments of tenderness. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a dreary truth but a delightful read.”
— ANNA DORN, author of Vagablonde
“A luminous novel, whose humor, wisdom and tenderness shine through on every page. Emily Austin writes with a perfectly-gauged lightness of touch, deftly balancing perceptive musings on life and death with scenes that make you laugh out loud. Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead hits that sweet spot: a fun, page-turner of a novel that engages both heart and head. I was captivated by it.”
— SARAH HAYWOOD, New York Times bestselling author of The Cactus
“The perfect blend of macabre and funny.”
“A fast read with a punch-drunk deadpan tone, this delightfully macabre novel is stellar.”
“Anxious death-obsessed lesbians unite! I cackled and cringed in recognition while following the exploits of Gilda, who is plagued by intrusive thoughts about death and the absurdity of the human condition. Emily Austin is a unique and wry writer, and her debut novel manages to be both hilarious and profound, a winning combination.”
— CELIA LASKEY, author of Under the Rainbow