We’re alive in a time of worst-case scenarios: The weather has gone uncanny. Our old postwar alliances are crumbling. Everywhere you look there’s an omen, a joke whose punchline is the end of the world. How is a person supposed to live in the shadow of such a grim future? What does it mean to have children–nothing if not an act of hope? What might it be like to live through the worst? And what on Earth is anybody doing about it?
Dublin-based writer Mark O’Connell is consumed by these questions–and, as the father of two young children himself, he finds them increasingly urgent. In Notes from an Apocalypse, he crosses the globe in pursuit of answers. He tours survival bunkers in South Dakota. He ventures to New Zealand, a favored retreat of billionaires banking on civilization’s collapse. He engages with would-be Mars colonists, preppers, right-wing conspiracists. And he bears witness to those places, like Chernobyl, that the future has already visited–real-life portraits of the end of the world as we know it. In doing so, he comes to a resolution, while offering readers a unique window into our contemporary imagination.
Both investigative and deeply personal, Notes from an Apocalypse is an affecting, humorous, and surprisingly hopeful meditation on our present moment. With insight, humanity, and wit, O’Connell leaves you to wonder: What if the end of the world isn’t the end of the world?
*Named one of The Millions & Lit Hub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2020*
“Extraordinarily good—insightful, affecting, funny, and appropriately terrifying. The perfect handbook for the end times. Mark O’Connell is a truly brilliant writer and Notes from an Apocalypse could hardly be more incisive, or more timely.”
—Sally Rooney, author of Normal People and Conversations with Friends
“Anyone with open eyes lives today bound by apocalyptic fears for the future and the maddening same-ness that defines the present day. Notes from an Apocalypse is a penetrating investigation into that new uncanny, which shapes both our collective indifference and our climate rage.”
—David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth
“Notes From an Apocalypse is such a fantastic book. It’s harrowing, tender-hearted and funny as hell. O’Connell proves himself to be a genius guide through all the circles of imagined and anticipated doom. Read it, then immediately buy a copy for your ‘but what’s the worst that could happen?’ friend.”
—Jenny Offill, author of Weather and Dept of Speculation
“Mark O’Connell’s voice is funny, charming and humane, even as he contemplates the grimmest outcomes of the 21st century climate catastrophe. Notes from an Apocalypse is funny and endlessly thought provoking, like Dante’s Inferno, if Hell was full of libertarian Tech bros, YouTube survivalists and guys who are really into extreme camping.”
—Colin Barrett, author of Young Skins
“Funny, life-affirming… With a warm, humorous outlook, O’Connell posits that even if we’re going down, we’re going down together.”
“[A] poet laureate of human frailty, quixoticism, and creativity as they manifest in the technologic age.”
“Life-affirming…A contribution to the doom-and-gloom genre that might actually cheer you up.”
“O’Connell is not only a sharp observer but a master at parsing the various subtexts underneath the surface rhetoric of these apocalyptic movements. This witty, profound, and beautifully told story will appeal to doomsday worriers and nonworriers alike.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“Relatable, often funny, and ultimately hopeful…A more-than-companionable guide, O’Connell sets out to understand how we live under constant threat of climate change and political terror, and finds that the answer is, more or less, we do.”