April 25, 2017
40,000 years in the past, the last family of Neanderthals roams the earth. After a crushingly hard winter, their numbers are low, but Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and her family is determined to travel to the annual meeting place and find her a mate.
But the unforgiving landscape takes its toll, and Girl is left alone to care for Runt, a foundling of unknown origin. As Girl and Runt face the coming winter storms, Girl realizes she has one final chance to save her people, even if it means sacrificing part of herself.
In the modern day, archaeologist Rosamund Gale works well into her pregnancy, racing to excavate newly found Neanderthal artifacts before her baby comes. Linked across the ages by their shared experience of early motherhood, both stories examine the often taboo corners of women’s lives.
Haunting, suspenseful, and profoundly moving, THE LAST NEANDERTHAL asks us to reconsider all we think we know about what it means to be human.
“Claire Cameron’s book is a necessary, brilliantly feminist and intuitive reading of our earliest history. She memorably paints a full world with her Neanderthals and binds it perfectly to our own.”
— Sheila Heti, author of Ticknor and How Should a Person Be?
“A powerful, warm and thought-provoking book, that artfully blends facts with fiction to put flesh on many abstract scientific debates.”
— Yuval Noah Harari, New York Times bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
“To call this book a historical novel would be a great mistake—The Last Neanderthal goes a lot further and deeper than that. Claire Cameron reunites us with our past, with the beginning of humanity. In this book I lived next to people who populated the earth a very long time ago and have long since vanished completely. To make you feel for them and, what is more, feel with them, is a great achievement. It is one of those novels that opens the world to you in a different way, and after finishing it this world will never look the same to you again.”
— Herman Koch, author of The Dinner and Dear Mr. M
“The women of Cameron’s The Last Neanderthal are fierce, whatever their time period. This meditation on motherhood, passion and survival is lush and lovingly detailed, creating a world that’s frighteningly accurate and reassuringly heartfelt. Couldn’t put it down.”
— Eden Robinson, author of Monkey Beach and Son of a Trickster
“The Last Neanderthal is a book like no other. Claire Cameron effortlessly inhabits the worlds of two very different and pregnant women – a female Neanderthal desperate to survive and an archeologist who fears losing control of her dig site – and shows us they are not that different after all. A powerful novel that will make you cry. And laugh, too.”
— Marcy Dermansky, Bad Marie and The Red Car
“Claire Cameron’s newest novel, The Last Neanderthal, is fascinating, insightful and poignant; a moving narrative of the last survivors of a harsh and unforgiving environment that is both exotic and achingly familiar. It is a story of our profound connectedness to our ancestors, exploring the ultimate question of what it means to be truly human.”
— Kathleen Kent, author of The Outcasts and The Dime
“The Last Neanderthal is astonishing. With delicacy and tenderness, Claire Cameron imagines the struggles of a Neanderthal family to sustain itself physically and psychologically in the face of extinction. As we follow Girl, her mother and brothers, and a mysterious stray called Runt, we are put in touch with what is most ancient and noble in human nature. At the same time, the parallel contemporary narrative shows us how little, over the eons, the human heart has changed. I’m thrilled by Cameron’s adventurous and deeply empathic tale, an example of what fiction at its best can do.”
— Pamela Erens, author of The Virgins and Eleven Hours
“This rich, literary, science-based imagining of Neanderthal life intrigued me from the start. The parallels between two women navigating complex lives from across time and space– and across a narrow species boundary–is captivating in itself. But more than this, while reading The Last Neanderthal, I felt myself standing with new feet within our human lineage. This book makes me want to pay attention to the senses that are in our blood—an alertness to vision, smell, touch, weather, the presence of other creatures–that can come naturally to us as a Homo sapiens, but have been lost from inattention and lack of use. I find myself walking into the world with a heightened awareness of what it means to be fully human.”
— Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet and Mozart’s Starling
One of the Emerging Voices in Publishers Lunch Buzz Books for Spring/Summer
Listed as one of “the most exciting books hitting shelves in the first half of 2017, from Canada and beyond,” in the CBC Spring Book Preview
The Last Neanderthal appears in The Millions Most Anticipated: The Great 2017 Book Preview
Mark Medley, Books Editor of The Globe and Mail, names The Last Neanderthal as one of the most anticipated books of 2017
One of “Barabara’s Picks” by Barbara Hoffert, Editor, LJ Prepub Alert, Library Journal
In an exclusive first look, The Millions revealed the cover
International Hot Book Properties, Publishers Weekly