The Bukowski Agency - The Last Neanderthal

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US: Little, Brown, April 2017
Canada: Doubleday, April 2017
Canada and UK Audio: Audible
Czech Republic: Nakladatelství Jota
Denmark: Forlaget Zara
Germany: btb/Random House
Greece: Brainfood Publishing Ltd.
Italy: Società Editrice Milanese
Netherlands: Cargo/De Bezige Bij
Russia: Eksmo
Spain: Maeva
Turkey: Mitra Yayinevi


Claire Cameron (Photo: David Kerr)
(Photo: David Kerr)

Born in 1973, Claire Cameron grew up in Toronto. She studied History and Culture at Queen's University and later worked as an instructor for Outward Bound, teaching mountaineering, climbing, and white-water rafting in Oregon. Next she worked in San Francisco for Pearson Plc before moving to London in 1999. There she was director of Shift Media, a consultancy whose clients included the BBC, McGraw-Hill, and Oxford University Press. Her first novel was the taut thriller The Line Painter. Her second novel, The Bear, about two small children lost in the bush after their parents are killed by a bear, became a #1 national bestseller in Canada and was sold in eight territories and optioned for film. It was longlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Claire’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Globe & Mail, The Los Angeles Review of Books and The Rumpus. She is a staff writer at The Millions. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons.


The Last Neanderthal US hardcover edition


The Last Neanderthal Greek edition


The Last Neanderthal Czech edition


The Last Neanderthal Danish edition


The Last Neanderthal Dutch edition


The Last Neanderthal Italian edition

The Last Neanderthal

a novel by Claire Cameron



“A powerful, warm and thought-provoking book, that artfully blends facts with fiction to put flesh on many abstract scientific debates.” — YUVAL NOAH HARARI, New York Times bestselling author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

“To call this book a historical novel would be a great mistake—The Last Neanderthal goes a lot further and deeper than that. Claire Cameron reunites us with our past, with the beginning of humanity. In this book I lived next to people who populated the earth a very long time ago and have long since vanished completely. To make you feel for them and, what is more, feel with them, is a great achievement. It is one of those novels that opens the world to you in a different way, and after finishing it this world will never look the same to you again.” — HERMAN KOCH, author of The Dinner and Dear Mr. M

The Last Neanderthal Us paperback edition

“In a flash, she could see that that the cat knew her plan. He had watched her eyes flicker and guessed her moves exactly. He jumped, but to the side. One beat of the heart and she had missed the mark. The stick would hit at the side of his mouth. Rather than stab through the back of his head as intended, it would glance off his tooth or nose. Without perfect aim, she would not be able to kill him in one move. There was no second move. She was the eaten.”

The Last Neanderthal follows the story of the last family of Neanderthals through their final year of life. After a hard winter their numbers are low. Girl, the oldest daughter, is just coming of age and anticipating mating at the yearly salmon run. Through hunting accidents, animal attacks, old age, and disease, their numbers dwindle until Girl is left alone to care for a foundling named Runt. In their quest to find family, they face starvation in the coming winter storms. Girl has one final chance to stop her people from becoming extinct through continuing to breed.

Claire Cameron in Mantova, Italy, visiting the Lovers of Valdaro—the inspiration behind The Last Neanderthal
(Photo: Franco Cassini)
Claire Cameron visiting the Lovers of Valdaro

Alternating with Girl’s story is a contemporary drama about a young, pregnant anthropologist who has discovered the bones of Girl. What links these characters over the millennia is their experience of early motherhood, and the extremes to which it can drive young mothers. The novel integrates the relatively new notions that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens co-existed, and that they were a lot more like us than we have been led to believe. When under extreme stress, both women behave in remarkably similar ways. In a tale as harrowing as it is hopeful, Claire Cameron explores the dark, often taboo corners of women’s lives. Her novel includes unprecedented, vivid descriptions of the experience of pregnancy and childbirth.

Claire Cameron’s reimagining of Neanderthals is buttressed by recent scientific discoveries. The Clan of the Cave Bear was published thirty-five years ago; in the last ten years there has been a major scientific reassessment of Neanderthals. They are no longer seen as a primitive people who lost out to humans, but rather as a species with a brain capacity 10% larger than ours who managed to survive several hundred thousand years longer than we have so far. Many people have inherited up to 4% of their DNA from Neanderthals. Most scientists see this as evidence of interbreeding with Homo sapiens.



“Claire Cameron’s evocative novel “The Last Neanderthal” also interweaves the contemporary with the primeval. Her page turner is anchored by the story of Dr. Rose Gale, who discovers the bones belonging to a pair of bodies (a Neanderthal and a modern Homo sapiens) in a cavern in France, and whose career was inspired by H.G. Wells’s description of Neanderthals from “The Outline of History.” (Wells also wrote a piece of prehistoric fiction, “The Grisly Folk.”) The most visceral and moving chapters are those devoted to Girl, a Neanderthal cast out from “the hearth of the family.” Though Cameron signals the connection between the lives of Girl and Rose early on, the suspense lies in the way she laces together their stories.” — THE NEW YORK TIMES

“We can certainly give Neanderthals authentic, scientific details. But to take all of those archaeological and genetic details and then write Neanderthals as the protagonists of their own absorbing tales is no small feat. Claire Cameron’s latest novel, The Last Neanderthal, does just that, combining extensive, thoughtful research with a compelling Neanderthal-driven narrative…. In The Last Neanderthal, Cameron pulls out all the literary stops in giving Neanderthals as much free rein, agency, and authenticity as possible…. This could easily be the best book that shakes up the classic Neanderthal tropes in science fiction and fantasy. Girl’s story and how it is told matches the evolving perception on Neanderthals and the nuances of the Pleistocene lives. The real strength of The Last Neanderthal is Cameron’s unwillingness to relegate Neanderthals to the Other—she lets them simply be themselves.”  — LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS

“Impressively executed.… The contrasting and similar reactions to motherhood are emblematic of the book’s greatest strength—its ability to collapse time and space to draw together seemingly dissimilar species: ancestors and successors, writer and reader.”  — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY starred review

“Readers have been captivated by stories of prehistoric humans for eons—well, at least since Jean Auel’s phenomenal 1980 best seller The Clan of the Cave Bear. Claire Cameron’s arresting new novel The Last Neanderthal investigates the same time period with significantly more literary skill…. This vivid and at times melancholy novel makes clear how much we carry on from those who existed long before us.”

The Last Neanderthal is emotionally engaging…. This immersive story unites two women across time [and] infuses the interrelated stories with warmth, enhanced by vivid details about Neanderthal experiences.”  — SHELF-AWARENESS

The Last Neanderthal offers current science but places it in the context of emotional lives, particularly the intensity of pregnancy and childbirth—and in so doing, Cameron urges readers to reflect on just what being ‘human’ really means.”

“As both a feminist and a mother, I strongly recommend this book.”  —THE HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY REVIEW

A “thought-provoking page-turner.… A provocative look at our earliest history, this book will stick with you.”  — CANADIAN LIVING MAGAZINE

“Girl is a familiar hero, faced with difficult, life-altering choices about loyalty, longing and complex family ties. The fact that she is from another species—and that Cameron renders her with such exquisite compassion—speaks to the author’s deep empathy, consummate skill as an artist and deep-hearted vision. The Last Neanderthal is a novel to cherish.”  — THE TORONTO STAR

“This is an engaging tale that celebrates the search for life’s meaning and its quotidian nature.”  — BOOKPAGE

“Across millennia, Neanderthal and Homo sapiens, ancient girl and contemporary woman, hunter and scientist—all share much in common.”  — KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Devoured it like Girl devoured the meat strips. Could not put it down.”
 —@RogersShelagh, SHELAGH ROGERS

“Claire Cameron's book is a necessary, brilliantly feminist and intuitive reading of our earliest history. She memorably paints a full world with her Neanderthals and binds it perfectly to our own.” — SHEILA HETI, author of Ticknor and How Should a Person Be?

“The women of Cameron’s The Last Neanderthal are fierce, whatever their time period. This meditation on motherhood, passion and survival is lush and lovingly detailed, creating a world that’s frighteningly accurate and reassuringly heartfelt. Couldn’t put it down.” — EDEN ROBINSON, author of Monkey Beach and Son of a Trickster

“The Last Neanderthal is a book like no other. Claire Cameron effortlessly inhabits the worlds of two very different and pregnant women—a female Neanderthal desperate to survive and an archeologist who fears losing control of her dig site—and shows us they are not that different after all. A powerful novel that will make you cry. And laugh, too.”  — MARCY DERMANSKY, author of Bad Marie and The Red Car

“Claire Cameron’s newest novel, The Last Neanderthal, is fascinating, insightful and poignant; a moving narrative of the last survivors of a harsh and unforgiving environment that is both exotic and achingly familiar. It is a story of our profound connectedness to our ancestors, exploring the ultimate question of what it means to be truly human.” — KATHLEEN KENT, author of The Outcasts and The Dime

“The Last Neanderthal is astonishing. With delicacy and tenderness, Claire Cameron imagines the struggles of a Neanderthal family to sustain itself physically and psychologically in the face of extinction. As we follow Girl, her mother and brothers, and a mysterious stray called Runt, we are put in touch with what is most ancient and noble in human nature. At the same time, the parallel contemporary narrative shows us how little, over the eons, the human heart has changed. I’m thrilled by Cameron’s adventurous and deeply empathic tale, an example of what fiction at its best can do.” — PAMELA ERENS, author of The Virgins and Eleven Hours

“This rich, literary, science-based imagining of Neanderthal life intrigued me from the start. The parallels between two women navigating complex lives from across time and space—and across a narrow species boundary—is captivating in itself. But more than this, while reading The Last Neanderthal, I felt myself standing with new feet within our human lineage. This book makes me want to pay attention to the senses that are in our blood—an alertness to vision, smell, touch, weather, the presence of other creatures—that can come naturally to us as a Homo sapiens, but have been lost from inattention and lack of use. I find myself walking into the world with a heightened awareness of what it means to be fully human.” — LYANDA LYNN HAUPT, author of Crow Planet and Mozart’s Starling

“I became a fan of Claire Cameron’s in a heartbeat. If there’s any truth to the saying that unless you remember the past you can never imagine what lies ahead, I wonder what future awaits us if we look back as far as the Neanderthals, where memory meets imagination and the dividing line between the two becomes blurred.” — L’ESPRESSO

“A complex and compelling story…. Claire Cameron takes the exhilaration of motherhood out of the realm of the imagination and plunges it into reality…. Cameron reveals frailties that are more common than one might imagine…. She casts the spotlight on an untamed realm that history has forced into line.”

“Using two different narrative styles, Cameron describes the life of a primitive family that sniffs, licks, hisses and experiences Nature first-hand, then jumps over the millennia to the present day and the archaeologist who ultimately finds herself putting forward a bold theory: could evolution also be driven by the power of love?” — IL FATTO QUOTIDIANO

“Two pregnancies separated by eons, driving a story that plumbs the depths of joy and motherhood since the very origins of the species.” — LA GAZZETTA DI MANTOVA

“A powerful novel that’s both moving and suspenseful; a fast-paced, utterly intriguing story that will have the reader straining to answer the Big Question: what does it mean to be human?” — LA VOCE DI MANTOVA

Longlisted for the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction

The Bear had me up all night, and when I finally put it down I knew that I wouldn't forget Anna and her little brother Stick for a long time. Claire Cameron is an absolute master in letting us feel grief and loss by never using those words. The ending is very moving and offers us real consolation at the same time.”— HERMAN KOCH, author of The Dinner

“A tender, terrifying, poignant ride. Hang on.”— OPRAH.COM

“A gripping survival thriller … [an] agonizing odyssey of loss and being lost also has humour. The book’s anguished yet hopeful ending provides a touching terminus for Anna and Stick’s journey to adulthood. This expertly crafted novel could do for camping what Jaws did for swimming.”— PEOPLE

“Harrowing suspense. The Bear is a survival thriller that is told from a child's-eye point-of-view, which is not only convincing but doubles the tension. A heartbreaking, white-knuckle read.”  — ANDREW PYPER, author of The Demonologist

The Bear is a taut and touching story of how a child's love and denial become survival skills. Claire Cameron takes a fairytale situation of children pitted against the wilderness, removes the fairies, and adds a terrifying and ravenous bear. I devoured this wonderful new novel in one day—if I can use the word ‘devoured’ for a book about a bear.”  — CHARLOTTE ROGAN, author of The Lifeboat

“Claire Cameron plunges us in to the dark terrors of the wilderness. The Bear is a survival story that is heart-pounding and moving. I devoured this book.”— TANIS RIDEOUT, author of Above All Things

The Bear faultlessly captures the wonder, bewilderment, fear and self-centeredness of five-year-old Anna, and beautifully balances the darkness of her tale with a hopeful, sensitively told back story and moments when she grasps her situation with just enough clarity to shoulder her burden.”  — CATHY MARIE BUCHANAN, author of The Painted Girls

Claire Cameron with the Lovers of Valdaro
(Photo: Franco Cassini)
Claire Cameron and the Lovers of Valdaro



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