"A triumphant story for anyone with a shred of faith left in the human spirit." --David McGlynn, author of One Day You'll Thank Me What if the end times allowed people to see and build the world anew? This is the landscape that Kimi Eisele creates in her surprising and original debut novel. Evoking the spirit of such monumental love stories as Cold Mountain and the creative vision of novels like Station Eleven, The Lightest Object in the Universeimagines what happens after the global economy collapses and the electrical grid goes down.
In this new world, Carson, on the East Coast, is desperate to find Beatrix, a woman on the West Coast who holds his heart. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they'll be saved by an evangelical preacher in the middle of the country. While Carson travels west, Beatrix and her neighbors begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could be, in fact, a bright beginning.
Without modern means of communication, will Beatrix and Carson find their way to each other, and what will be left of the old world if they do? The answers may lie with a fifteen-year-old girl who could ultimately decide the fate of the lovers.
The Lightest Object in the Universe is a moving and hopeful story about resilience and adaptation and a testament to the power of community, where our best traits, born of necessity, can begin to emerge.
Kimi Eisele is a writer and multidisciplinary artist. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Longreads, Orion Magazine, High Country News, and elsewhere. She holds a master's degree in geography from the University of Arizona, where in 1998 she founded You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography. She has received grants from the Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Kresge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She lives in Tucson and works for the Southwest Folklife Alliance. This is her first novel.
"A near-future apocalypse forms the backdrop for an intense, moving romance in Eisele's smart debut . . . Fans of Station Eleven will particularly enjoy this hopeful vision of a postapocalyptic world where there is danger, but also the possibility for ideas to spread, community to blossom, and people to not just survive, but thrive."
-- Publishers Weekly
"This is Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain crossed with Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven. Filled with luminous writing and messages of love and hope, this story will motivate everyone to sharpen their ham radio skills."
-- Library Journal
"A compellingly realistic depiction of the world after the collapse of civilization, although at its heart, it is a love story told in the vein of Cold Mountain . . .The Lightest Object in the Universe is an intriguing and engrossing debut novel that will leave readers thinking about their own ability to survive, their own capacity for love, and their willingness to face catastrophe with hope."
-- New York Journal of Books
"Kimi Eisele's first novel is a love story set in a landscape where everything (government, history, infrastructure) has collapsed--except our need for one another and the struggle to persevere. In such a world, love may be on the run, but it can still be a transforming force. What's required is a kind of faith: in ourselves, in one another, in a future that is no more or less uncertain than it has always been. The experience of humanity, in other words, which Eisele brings to every page of this deeply moving narrative."
-- David L. Ulin, author of Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles
"It might be an oxymoron to call an apocalyptic novel hopeful, but The Lightest Object in the Universe is a testament to the power of love in the darkest times. Like a near-future Cold Mountain, it's the story of a man's epic journey to reunite with the woman he loves, and a woman's determination to reimagine and rebuild after the fall. There's horror, yes, but more moments of ingenuity, generosity, and grace. I couldn't put it down."
-- Sheri Holman, author of Witches on the Road Tonight
"A tale told in sentences starkly declarative of the gone world they describe, The Lightest Object in the Universe offers characters that linger long after the final page is turned. This is a novel with that exact balance of heart and momentum. Dazzling."
-- Christian Kiefer, author of The Animals
"Post-apocalyptic stories are all the rage, but Kimi Eisele's novel is a rarity. Her people don't merely wander across a blighted wasteland; they form communities, till the soil, send their voices into the ether, and cling tenaciously to hope. The Lightest Object in the Universe is a triumphant story for anyone with a shred of faith left in the human spirit."
-- David McGlynn, author of One Day You'll Thank Me