Book Review: The Brief History of the Dead

The Brief History of the DeadBriefHistoryOfThe_Dead, by Kevin Brockmeier. This novel connects the world’s dead to one character, a tenacious young woman named Laura Byrd, perhaps the last survivor of a global pandemic. Brockmeier does the seemingly impossible—makes us care about the dead. They’re dead! Who cares!? The point is, we all do. If we don’t yet have dead people we care about, we will.

The tension builds as we realize the continued “existence” of the dead we’ve become connected to—Laura’s parents, Luka, Minny, the blind man (all the people Laura remembers meeting)—hinges on her continued survival. The reader has Laura’s story in mind while following events in the city of the dead, and the omniscient narrative’s movement between these worlds keeps tension building to the last page. Riveting.

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