...[a] lethally witty debut ... One might expect a novel about gun-toting, conspiracy-minded loners to lampoon its key players, but the book succeeds because Cauley appears as curious and empathetic toward the survivalists as she is toward her protagonist ... Cauley’s prose comes at an accelerated clip that will at times have readers jumping back a few paragraphs to orient themselves. But devoid of pretense or judgment, her writing style reflects Aretha’s ambivalence, and the narrative’s underlying philosophical inquiries ... Cauley, a former writer for The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, displays an enviably versatile sense of humor...The novel is most fun when her wit bolsters the narrative’s sociopolitical underpinnings.
In today’s America, what constitutes success? What are the obstacles to achieving it? How do race, class, age, and location affect the odds? These oh-so-serious questions are tackled with scathing, lol-inducing wit in The Survivalists, Kashana Cauley’s smart, sharp debut novel ... Like the novel itself, its smart, satiric opening line is right on point for the era into which the novel and its characters have been born. Cauley’s comedic and literary chops had this reader guffawing at her characters’ self-serving, oh-so-trendy ridiculousness, then flunking the mirror test. Wait a minute. That’s me.
..[a] fleet and funny debut novel ... Cauley’s book is as comedic as is it caffeinated — not merely because Aaron knows his way around a Chemex pour-over, but because Aretha’s internal monologues, delivered in a smooth third-person intimate, go a mile a minute ... The Survivalists has notes of darkness and a well-balanced acidity that shouldn’t come as a surprise to readers of Cauley’s opinion pieces for GQ, The Atlantic, and The New York Times, among others ... Cauley’s prose is often laugh-out-loud funny, and though a couple of leaps are wobbly, the author is wonderfully attuned to matters of Blackness and the ways a current generation lives, enjoys, and — yes — suffers.