The Brief History of the Dead

The Brief History of the Dead

Kevin Brockmeier

Synopsis of The Brief History of the Dead

...Remember me when I...m gone...just took on a whole new meaning.

The City is inhabited by the recently departed, who reside there only as long as they remain in the memories of the living. Among the current residents of this afterlife are Luka Sims, who prints the only newspaper in the City, with news from the other side; Coleman Kinzler, a vagrant who speaks the cautionary words of God; and Marion and Phillip Byrd, who find themselves falling in love again after decades of marriage.

On Earth, Laura Byrd is trapped by extreme weather in an Antarctic research station. She's alone and unable to contact the outside world: her radio is down and the power is failing. She's running out of supplies as quickly as she's running out of time.

Reviews of The Brief History of the Dead


It's way too early to call this the best fantasy of the year. But if there are better ones, we're in for some spectacular reading. -- Adam-Troy Castro,

In The Brief History of the Dead, Brockmeier ups the ante, adroitly weaving two distinct narratives, that of the living and that of the dead, and crafts an achingly beautiful novel where the dead rely on the living for survival and the living survive through the act of remembering. -- Gerry Donaghy, PopMatters

Kevin Brockmeier's The Brief History of the Dead is perhaps the most densely romantic novel I have ever read to also feature a deadly airborne virus and a satire of marketing gimmicks. -- Anna Godbersen, Powells Review A Day

Nobody in the novel is remotely interesting, even in their responses to their extraordinary predicaments. And the plot, although rich in dramatic possibility, limps along through various tedious digressions and flashbacks, failing to stimulate any real imaginative or intellectual excitement. -- Patrick McGrath, The New York Times

Kevin Brockmeier deserves all praise for this superior effort. -- Carlos Aranaga, ScifiDimenesions

Brockmeier's characters are wonderful, and his images are dazzling. -- Susan Hall-Balduf, The Detroit Free Press

The Book may serve as an indictment of such contemporary threats as biological weapons and unfettered corporate power, but it's also simply a beautiful story -- Becky Ohlsen, Bookpage

Perhaps Brockmeier should have put more faith in the place where he began, the city of the dead; measured against the infinite possibilities of his subject, the novel doesn't quite achieve the profundity that he intends. -- Sarah Emily Miano, The London Times

It mostly works but I admit that after a while, Laura's tribulations got seriously boring to me, which is a nasty thing to admit. -- Andi Shechter, January Magazine

Long after the story is finished, it will continue to haunt readers as they ponder themes of survival, connection, annihilation, the power of memories, and the mysteries of life and death. -- Terry Miller Shannon,

For all its pop surface, Brockmeier's novel leaves a curiously bleak impression. -- Roger Gathman, The Chicago Sun-Times