Synopses & Reviews
A woman at a crossroads learns the only way to reclaim her life is to help others die.
Karolina Waclawiak’s breakout novel, Life Events, follows Evelyn, who, at thirty-seven, is on the verge of divorce and anxiously dreading the death of everyone she loves. She combats her existential crisis by avoiding her husband and aimlessly driving along the freeways of California looking for an escape — one that eventually comes when she discovers a collective of “exit guides.” Evelyn enrolls in their training course, where she learns to provide companionship and a final exit for terminally ill patients seeking a conscious departure.
She meets Daphne, a dying woman still full of life; Lawrence, an aging porn king; and Daniel, who seems too young to die and whom Evelyn falls for, despite knowing better, not to mention the exit guide code. Each client opens something new in Evelyn, allowing her a chance to access her own grief and confront the self-destructive ways she suppresses her pain. When Evelyn travels through the Southwest to an afterlife convention to further her death education, she must finally face her complicated relationship with her alcoholic father and reconcile her life choices.
Sensitively observed and darkly funny, Life Events is a moving, enlivening story of the human condition: the doldrums of loneliness, the consuming regret of past mistakes, and the thrill, finally, of finding meaning — and love — where you least expect it.
“Brilliant and exhilarating. Every page of Life Events shines with insight, feeling, and astonishing candor, and not a sentence rings false. I love this novel.” R.O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries
"Waclawiak writes with emotional precision and explores the tragedy of existence by masterfully walking the line between suffering and hope." Arianna Rebolini, BuzzFeed
"Life Events is a hypnotic novel that beautifully grapples with fundamental questions about how to die and how to live. Karolina Waclawiak transports the reader into the streets of Los Angeles, the deserts of the southwest, the apartments of the dying, and a woman's life at a moment of profound change. Filled with compelling, provocative details about the work of exit guides for terminally ill people, Life Events is both a mid-life bildungsroman and a meditation on self-determination. I can't stop thinking about this novel." Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
About the Author
Karolina Waclawiak is the author of the novels How to Get into the Twin Palms and The Invaders. Formerly an editor at The Believer, she is the executive editor of culture at BuzzFeed News. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Hazlitt, and elsewhere.