A playful, witty, and resonant novel in which a single mother and her two teen daughters engage in a wild scientific experiment and discover themselves in the process, from the award-winning writer of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
Teenage sisters Eve and Vera never imagined their summer vacation would be spent in the Arctic, tagging along on their mother’s scientific expedition. But there’s a lot about their lives lately that hasn’t been going as planned, and truth be told, their single mother might not be so happy either.
Now in Siberia with a bunch of serious biologists, Eve and Vera are just bored enough to cause trouble. Fooling around in the permafrost, they accidentally discover a perfectly preserved, four-thousand-year-old baby mammoth, and things finally start to get interesting. The discovery sets off a surprising chain of events, leading mother and daughters to go rogue, pinging from the slopes of Siberia to the shores of Iceland to an exotic animal farm in Italy, and resulting in the birth of a creature that could change the world—or at least this family.
The Last Animal takes readers on a wild, entertaining, and refreshingly different kind of journey, one that explores the possibilities and perils of the human imagination on a changing planet, what it’s like to be a woman in a field dominated by men, and how a wondrous discovery can best be enjoyed with family. Even teenagers.
About the Author
Ramona Ausubel is the author of two novels and two story collections, among them Awayland and Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty. Winner of the PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, she has been long-listed for the Story Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, NPR’s Selected Shorts, and elsewhere.
Praise for The Last Animal:
“The Ice Age meets the Anthropocene in this gem from Ausubel… Ausubel is at her best when exploring the ties that bind, especially in a family flung into unprecedented circumstances. In charting the parallel worlds of grief, scientific devotion, and adolescence, Ausubel comes up with a seamless global caper that brims with compassion and makes the reader glad to be alive.”–Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
“I loved this book so much. Ramona Ausubel writes with such humor, but also shining intellect and vulnerability. The Last Animal shows the value of taking risks even when the heart is broken, and that sometimes risk brings with it a return to warmth. Gorgeous.” –Jenny Slate, bestselling author of Little Weirds
“I never thought I would fall in love with a wooly mammoth, but without a doubt I did. Here is an unlikely story of family and tenacity, of existence and striving to exist even if you are told you cannot. The women of this remarkable family astounded me. They are brilliant, kind, and utterly fearless. The prose is gorgeous. Each sentence pulsates with such heart and life.” –Weike Wang, author of Chemistry
“The Last Animal is pitch perfect, a phylum of every hurt and want traded between mothers and daughters. I was captivated by the spirit of this tightly-woven story. How magical to consider the world as very large and yet very small all at the same time. A tender, fascinating look into the bruised things that can lay buried inside a family.” –Kristen Arnett, author of With Teeth