Edan Lepucki on doing your laundry at the end of the world

Jul 28, 2014

Author Edan Lepucki says a lot of dystopian, apocalyptic stories are aspirational; they’re epic, sweeping stories about heroes and salvation.

But Lepucki’s new novel, California, takes place on a smaller scale

“When you see people under pressure they’re often not their best selves,” Lepucki says.  

“The world may be ending, but you still have to do your laundry. So I was really interested in that gritty, day-to-day mundane existence, because I feel like that’s how life is. And it wouldn’t change even if you were in the middle of the world going to hell.”

Lepucki says California is an intimate, domestic look at two people and how they deal with each other when they can’t take anything for granted. It’s the story of a young married couple at the end of the world.

“I like people talking in a room,” Lepucki says, “and the drama between them, the tensions between them; the things they say, the things they don’t say. So that’s what my focus was.”

And California has taken on a life of its own-- it hasn’t even been out for a month, and the debut novel has already made headlines.

That’s because it was published by Hachette, the publisher that was marginalized by Amazon after it didn’t agre eto the online bookseller’s pricing terms.

Several authors who write for Hachette, including David Sedaris, have spoken out against Amazon, with the loudest opposition coming from Stephen Colbert.

He and Sherman Alexie talked about California on The Colbert Report, which garnered Lepucki attention that she never anticipated.

All of a sudden, she was signing nine thousand books at Powell’s books in Portland.

Lepucki says the whole experience has been surreal. “Having my book talked about on The Colbert Report was one thing, and going to Powell's and signing all the books, that was amazing and incredible and totally crazy,” Lepucki says.

“Then I’m suddenly on Colbert myself, which feels like a dream. I mean, I don’t know what to think.”

Edan Lepucki will be reading from, and signing copies of, her novel California tonight at 7 at Malaprop’s bookstore in downtown Asheville.