Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily Austin
Funny, dark and harrowing – Emily Austin's debut novel is a profoundly honest portrayal of mental health in a chaotic modern world
Gilda is having a very bad day when Emily Austin’s Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead opens. So anxious is she that she’d rather drive herself to A&E in her broken-down car than ask for help, for fear she might offend or inconvenience strangers going about their day. She is also constantly consumed by intrusive thoughts of how she might die, often lost in deep macabre thinking, and missing out on the world around her.
After her car accident, Gilda tries to set her path right by attending a free therapy session, but when a priest mistakes her for someone interviewing to replace the church receptionist, she winds up landing the job. What follows is a heartfelt and comedic story of an atheist lesbian trying to exist in a world destined to end, guided by an innate warmth and kindness that she is oblivious to, simply wanting everyone around her to be happy even if she doesn’t afford herself that very happiness.
What makes Austin’s novel stand out is the authenticity and care which she employs when depicting Gilda’s struggles. As funny as the novel is, it’s equally dark and intensely harrowing. This debut is profound for its honest portrayal of mental health in a chaotic modern world, giving space for humour and tenderness while reckoning with the absurdity of the human condition.