The Survivalists: A Novel (Paperback)

The Survivalists: A Novel By Kashana Cauley Cover Image

The Survivalists: A Novel (Paperback)


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January 2023 Indie Next List

The Survivalists tackles our divisive sociopolitical climate with dark humor, irony, absurdity, and understanding. A fun, thought-provoking, and revelatory novel about Doomsday prepping and our capacity for love and acceptance.”
— Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA

A Phenomenal Book Club Pick

“A great and engrossing read, Kashana humanizes a way of life that is often made fun of and makes the reader understand why someone would go to such great lengths to prepare for the future, so much so she almost sold me on those Life Preserver soy bars!” —Trevor Noah

A single Black lawyer puts her career and personal moral code at risk when she moves in with her coffee entrepreneur boyfriend and his doomsday-prepping roommates in a novel that's packed with tension, curiosity, humor, and wit from a writer with serious comedy credentials

In the wake of her parents’ death, Aretha, a habitually single Black lawyer, has had only one obsession in life—success—until she falls for Aaron, a coffee entrepreneur. Moving into his Brooklyn brownstone to live along with his Hurricane Sandy-traumatized, illegal-gun-stockpiling, optimized-soy-protein-eating, bunker-building roommates, Aretha finds that her dreams of making partner are slipping away, replaced by an underground world, one of selling guns and training for a doomsday that’s maybe just around the corner. 

For readers of Victor LaValle’s The Changeling, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout, and Zakiya Harris’s The Other Black Girl, The Survivalists is a darkly humorous novel from a smart and relevant new literary voice that's packed with tension, curiosity and wit, and unafraid to ask the questions most relevant to a new generation of Americans: Does it make sense to climb the corporate ladder? What exactly are the politics of gun ownership? And in a world where it’s nearly impossible for young people to earn enough money to afford stable housing, what does it take in order to survive?
Kashana Cauley is a former Midtown antitrust lawyer and Brooklyn resident. She is a writer for the Fox comedy The Great North, a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times, and a GQ contributor. She’s written for The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Pod Save America on HBO as well as The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Pitchfork, and Rolling Stone, and has published fiction in Esquire, Slate, Tin House, and The Chronicles of Now. Kashana now lives in Los Angeles.
Product Details ISBN: 9781593767594
ISBN-10: 1593767595
Publisher: Soft Skull
Publication Date: January 30th, 2024
Pages: 304
Language: English
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
A Phenomenal Book Club Pick
Named a Best Book by Today, People, InsideHook, Stylecaster

Named a Most Anticipated Book by The Washington Post, Bustle, Vulture, Salon, Oprah Daily, The Millions, and more

“A great and engrossing read, Kashana humanizes a way of life that is often made fun of and makes the reader understand why someone would go to such great lengths to prepare for the future, so much so she almost sold me on those Life Preserver soy bars!” —Trevor Noah

"This is a banger of a book!" —Samantha Irby

"[A] pretty withering comedy . . . and as [Cauley] turns her splendidly dry humor on the antics of the apocalypse-obsessed she reserves her indignation for the bloodsucking business practices that keep employees in a state of paranoid competition. Holding a job, finding an affordable place to live, starting a family—this is what 21st-century survivalism is really about." —Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

"[A] lethally witty debut . . . One might expect a novel about gun-toting, conspiracy-minded loners to lampoon its key players, but the book succeeds because Cauley appears as curious and empathetic toward the survivalists as she is toward her protagonist . . . Cauley, a former writer for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, displays an enviably versatile sense of humor. The novel is most fun when her wit bolsters the narrative’s sociopolitical underpinnings, as when she describes a 'house full of mysterious, unexplainable rich-people' paraphernalia, 'like gazebos.' Funny because they’re true, such jabs give the book its verve but also its depth. " —Laura Warrell, The New York Times Book Review

"Inventive . . . Cauley, a former staff writer for Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show and columnist for The New York Times, has shown herself to be a master of diagnosing our nation’s troubles through acerbic humor . . . Cauley’s quick wit flickers across these pages as her comedy carries us from scene to scene . . . There’s a nail-biting urgency to the juxtaposition of Aretha’s fledgling survivalism and her increasingly clumsy performance at work, contributing to the sense that The Survivalists would make for a thrilling screen adaptation." —Lovia Gyarkye, The Washington Post

"Learn her name, because Cauley is one of the funniest writers at work today, period." —Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times

"Cauley’s book is as comedic as is it caffeinated . . . The Survivalists has notes of darkness and a well-balanced acidity that shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of Cauley’s opinion pieces for GQ, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, among others . . . Cauley’s prose is often laugh-out-loud funny . . . the author is wonderfully attuned to matters of Blackness and the ways a current generation lives, enjoys, and—yes—suffers." —Lisa Kennedy, The Boston Globe

"A swift and sharp debut . . . There’s no shortage of thrills and survivalist hijinks here, but it’s really Aretha’s magnetic charm and droll outlook that keep you hooked." —Patrick Rapa, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"[A] witty, incisive look at work politics, Blackness, relationships, gun ownership, Hurricane Sandy, parent loss and more . . . After reading her novel, you'll want to inhale everything she writes . . .this smart, funny novel will stay with you." —Zibby Owens, Good Morning America

"A darkly funny look at how people form communities to care for one another amid institutional failures and scarcity." —Lisa Wong Macabasco, Vogue, A Best Book of the Year

"The Survivalists is one of the year's most noteworthy new books on premise alone . . . The Survivalists delivers with a portrait of an underground corner of Brooklyn that's so vividly captured, you may question what's going on behind your favorite coffee shop." —Halie Lesavage, Harper's Bazaar

"Rich with the wit and insight that has made Kashana Cauley such a joy in comedy writers’ rooms and on Twitter, The Survivalists is the author’s fiction debut, and an ambitious one . . . Capturing our modern terrors with both humor and tact, The Survivalists is a surprisingly fun read for such a dire topic." —Elle, A Most Anticipated Title of the Year

"[A] fiercely funny, engrossing novel." —Sophia June, Nylon

"This darkly funny doomsday satire is what many of us need right now. Offering a nuanced and only half-joking look into survivalism, capitalism, gun ownership and what it takes to survive in today’s world, Cauley provides a necessary tension-breaker." —Karla Strand, Ms.

"[A] tart, timely debut." —Leah Greenbaltt, Entertainment Weekly

“Cauley is one of the smartest and funniest writers working today, and this novel is a chance for fans to spend even more time with her cutting critiques of the flaws in American culture. This novel asks uncomfortable questions about the lengths we must go to survive as everything around us is falling apart." —Isle McEroy, Vulture, A Most Anticipated Book of the Year

"Cauley is a former lawyer herself and an experienced TV writer, notably for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, and her humor chops come across perfectly in this fast-paced novel. Touching on grief, trauma, desperation, and the complicated nature of love and friendship, the book balances the realities of living in New York City with the absurdity of embracing a fringe lifestyle with pitch-perfect style." —Sarah Neilson, Shondaland

"Cauley knows how to craft a story that is tense, funny as hell, and wise." —Rufus Hickok, Bust

"The ambitious story being told will leave you thinking, but it’s the small details that’ll make you return to this book again and again." —Tobias Carroll, InsideHook

"In today’s America, what constitutes success? What are the obstacles to achieving it? How do race, class, age, and location affect the odds? These oh-so-serious questions are tackled with scathing, lol-inducing wit in The Survivalists, Kashana Cauley’s smart, sharp debut novel . . . Cauley’s comedic and literary chops had this reader guffawing at her characters’ self-serving, oh-so-trendy ridiculousness, then flunking the mirror test. Wait a minute. That’s me." —Meredith Maran, Oprah Daily

"If you need a laugh after the last few years, Cauley’s dark comedy about doomsday preppers is what you need this winter." —Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful

"An ambitious Black lawyer gets sucked into the extralegal schemes of Brooklyn preppers in this first novel by a former writer for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah . . . Cauley's experience as a Manhattan antitrust lawyer infuses the office scenes with authentically cutthroat competition, and her comedy-writing chops shine in hilariously succinct characterizations . . . But what really sets this debut novel apart is its finely tuned balance between extremes: humor and drama, conspiracy and reason, careful preparation and total chaos. Funny and fresh, Cauley's prose moves dynamic characters through a vivid, living New York City." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)