Forthcoming from Algonquin Books, July 2019
If the grid went down, how would you find someone on the other side of the country? How would you find hope?
After a global economic collapse and failure of the electrical grid, amid escalating chaos, Carson, a high school teacher of history who sees history bearing out its lessons all around him, heads west on foot toward Beatrix, a woman he met and fell hard for during a chance visit to his school. Working his way along a cross-country railroad line, he encounters lost souls, clever opportunists, and those who believe they’ll be delivered from hardship if they can find their way to the evangelical preacher Jonathan Blue, who is broadcasting on all the airwaves countrywide. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Beatrix and her neighbors turn to one another for food, water, and solace, and begin to construct the kind of cooperative community that suggests the end could, in fact, be a promising beginning.
But between Beatrix and Carson lie 3,000 miles. With no internet or phone or postal service, can they find their way back to each other, and what will be left of their world when they do? The answers may lie with fifteen-year-old Rosie Santos, who travels reluctantly with her grandmother to Jonathan Blue, finding her voice and making choices that could ultimately decide the fate of the cross-country lovers.
The Lightest Object in the Universe is a story about reliance and adaptation, a testament to the power of community and a chronicle of moving on after catastrophic loss, illustrating that even in the worst of times, our best traits, borne of necessity, can begin to emerge.
Publication: July 9, 2019
“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
“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
“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