Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.
What makes Austin’s novel stand out is the authenticity and care which she employs when depicting Gilda’s struggles. As funny as the novel is, it’s equally dark and intensely harrowing. This debut is profound for its honest portrayal of mental health in a chaotic modern world, giving space for humour and tenderness while reckoning with the absurdity of the human condition.
Filled with dark humor, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a beguiling read. Gilda is wholly unique, yet at the same time, exceedingly relatable. The world through her eyes is often a terrifying one, but it is one that anyone who has dealt with anxiety will no doubt recognize. Through it all, Gilda’s endlessly good heart shines through, making her impossible not to root for.
... spellbinding and unforgettable ... Gilda's anxiety and social ineptitude could hardly be overstated, and she bumbles through life with such painful clumsiness that her story should be hard to read. But somehow, Austin's remarkable narrative is engaging and snappily paced even when its first-person narrator is lying in a dry, empty bathtub without the will to move. Gilda's voice is frequently extremely funny, with gut-laugh punchlines made more effective because they are so surprising ... disarmingly sweet even in its grimness. Gilda is a singularly memorable character.