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Ana and Win find themselves stuck, lifting the weight of their pasts, while frustrated by their present jobs: photographing vacant lots and decayed industrial sites, cataloguing the decline of capitalist excess to digitally scrub away humanity, making way for more gentrification.
When the pair is sent by their employers to a rustic island in the Pacific Northwest—home to hippies, runaways, and survivalist preppers—they meet Lena, an oceanographer and climate scientist, who has moved to the island in search of “the big one,” the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami that she knows is the island and the West Coast’s due; and Kitt, an athleisure clothing mogul, who is overseeing the construction of a vacation home that will serve as his apocalypse-shelter.
These four people’s lives intertwine as a police investigation throws life on the island into disarray, as activists and agents provocateurs take action, as dormant fault lines begin to tremble.
Andy Zuliani’s Last Tide is a vital debut novel and an edgy glimpse at a world just beyond tomorrow, and a sharp reminder of what society deems valuable.
Excerpt from Last Tide:
Win doesn’t remember when she started keeping an eye on the away postings on the company’s listserv, but it had become part of her morning routine. She’d arrive at work at around ten—it didn’t matter so much when the she got there, only that her shift ended after those of the drivers so that she’d have time to process the last of the day’s images—and, after refilling her travel mug and grabbing some of whatever catered breakfast there was left, she would boot up her workstation and check the dailies. In there with the inter-office memos and links to press releases would be postings, once in a while, of short-term work available at other sites—usually to fill in temporary vacancies, sometimes to meet spikes in the demand for imaging when a city’s real estate market exploded. A scrubber in Palo Alto had a baby, two or three years ago, and Win filled in, coming back five months later with a good tan and a taste for farm-to-table cuisine, both completely unsustainable here.
But most of the time, Win was keeping an eye out for driver gigs. She managed to land Ana one of the first overseas postings, got her it as a kind of birthday gift. Win couldn’t go with her, but she was happy imagining her friend winding her way through the concentric maze of Amsterdam, a nightmare for tourists and a total dream spot for her. This was shortly after their actual trip together, when Ana confessed her need for difficulty, for distraction. Win made it her personal duty to throw as much of this her way as she could. It was Win who gave her the idea of turning off the nav screen, or rather unplugging it from behind, something Ana never thought of. This was technically sabotage of company property, but as long as she remembered to plug it back in before she turned the van in, well, who would be the wiser? Some of the other drivers found out, but they chalked it up to eccentricity and didn’t step in. Most of them, who drove more through the screen than through their windshields, were just impressed that she never got lost.Win’s sitting in her cubicle; it’s the end of the shift, and Ana is waiting with her as she finishes the last set of the day. It is two weeks after the incident outside of the industrial complex. Ana went back to work the next day and Win knew better than to push her to take time off. Instead, the listserv. Win’s clicking through emails, mostly inter-office stuff, which either goes over her head or pay scale or beyond her attention span because she deletes them as soon as they load. Ana’s not looking at the screen, and she’s not on her phone either, but is, instead, just zoning out. Win shift-clicks a chunk of administrative stuff and it scuttles into her trash bin. The next email in the queue opens.
“Look, check out this one.” She double-clicks the message so it opens full-screen and leans to the side. Ana wheels over.
“Another away job?”
“Yeah, why not? Here, here’s the best part.” Win scrolls down.
“A driver, and a scrubber? That’s all they need?”
“That’s us. Let’s do it.”
“When?” Win scrolls back up.
“It’s a Friday to Friday gig, two weeks from now.”
“Yeah? I can make it happen if it’s good for you.”
“Yeah, that works.”
“Where is this place?”
"Andy Zuliani’s writing is hyper-alive to landscape and culture of the West Coast. Dense, rich, evocative prose and imagery pull us into the narrative like an undertow. His debut novel submerges and tumbles us in a powerful wave of beauty and warning."
"Set in a sinister world of corporate blurrers and digital scrubbers, this profound and powerful novel sneaks up on the reader, ebbing and flowing so quietly that no one within its reach is fully prepared for the deadly sharpness of real life.”
"There is a telling phrase early in Andy Zuliani’s remarkable debut, Last Tide: 'once the process gets going, it’s hard to stop.' The multiple, layered, and entangled processes at the heart of this mesmerising story—personal grief and trauma, surveillance and data collection, real estate development and the looming presence of inevitable natural disaster—unfold, as the narrative does, with the precision of intricate clock-work. Like a calm coastal harbour, beneath the still surface of Zuliani’s prose the human heart thrums against the pressures formed by the collision of capital and geology. This is the writing we need—compassionate, clear eyed, undaunted—in an age gripped by apocalyptic fear."
"Last Tide takes us on a fully satisfying, dystopic adventure with a motley crew of islanders. Unpredictable nature and expansionist industries compete in edgy plot lines that come together with Zuliani’s highly skilled cross weave of imagery, allegory, and philosophical thought. This novel is like the futuristic fashion designed by its entrepreneurial villain: it feels alive, current, even as it anticipates the next catastrophic wave."
"With four emotionally complicated characters and a cunning setting, Last Tide's detailed story of gentrification and the power of money pales before the stunning power of nature."
"Natural forces trump puny human efforts every time, the novel makes plain. But once the crisis – quake, fire, flood – has passed, new will replace old, at least until the next reformatting phase begins. ’Twas ever thus, or so Zuliani’s intriguing novel implies." full review
"Given that the island is home to a community of surfers, the big wave is both an anticipated thrill and, as a giant tsunami, ignored. What to do while balancing, [Zuliani] asks — while waiting and not-waiting. What response should a society choose?" full review
"In Last Tide Zuliani examines the ongoing conflict found on Canada’s West Coast between those who want to preserve this ecological wonder and those who want to turn it into a profit generator." full review