This is a very funny book. Gilda, a 27-year-old atheist lesbian winds up needing to pretend she’s straight, available, Catholic, and an elderly (deceased) church receptionist named Grace. Gilda also lives with anxiety, to the point that cleaning up the Jenga tower of dirty dishes in her apartment is overwhelming and her visits to the ER for anxiety attacks are so frequent that the staff knows her by name. This book reminds us that the world can be difficult to navigate and everyone’s dealing with issues you don’t know about. For people in their 20s and early 30s.
—Elizabeth Hardin, Snail Readers Circle
July 2021 Indie Next List
“Gilda never wants to disappoint anyone, which is exactly how she ends up with a job as a secretary at a Catholic church. As a gay atheist, it's problematic. Alternatively hilarious and tragic, Gilda’s story is one that stays with you.”
— Laura Cummings, White Birch Books, North Conway, NH
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.
"The perfect blend of macabre and funny." —Buzzfeed
“Hilarious, relatable, exasperating, and endearing. For all readers of fiction.” —Library Journal
“Exuberant.... a brisk story underpinned by a vibrant cast.” —Publishers Weekly
"Readers will find themselves rooting for the lovable but traumatized heroine." —Kirkus
"Gilda’s overwhelming questions about the nature of existence don’t go away; transformed by love, they turn into wonder instead.” —New York Times Book Review
"A luminous novel, whose humour, 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. I was utterly charmed by the kind-hearted but morbidly anxious Gilda, a woman whose self-conscious overthinking leads her into the oddest of predicaments. The way she ties herself in ever-tighter knots trying to fit in and please everyone is something we can all relate to. 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
"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 The Guncle
"Gilda is the anxious queer hero who I didn't know that I needed, a delightfully weird reminder that we will one day turn to dust and that yes, this is depressing, but it's also what makes life beautiful, why it's important to say what we mean, do what we want, love as best as our crooked hearts will allow us to while we still can. I will read whatever Austin puts in front of me until I'm six feet under." —JEAN KYOUNG FRAZIER, author of Pizza Girl
"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
“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
"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
"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
"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
"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
“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
"For fans of Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Halle Butler, this is a darkly funny, surprisingly tender, and weirdly charming coming-of-age novel about a young woman with so much anxiety she'd rather lie than risk hurting anyone's feelings. A comedic masterpiece of conflict-avoidance, I absolutely loved this book." —LEIGH STEIN, author of Self Care
“Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is 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
"What an absolutely gorgeous book. Funny about death, real about anxiety, witty about the things that worry us the most, with the most endearing kind-hearted cast of characters." —EMMA GANNON, author of Olive