Domenica Ruta

Domenica Ruta is a New York Times best selling author, keynote speaker, and guest lecturer.


Last Day

Published by Spiegel & Grau

In Domenica Ruta’s profoundly original novel, the end of the world comes once a year. Every May 28, humanity gathers to anticipate the planet’s demise—and to celebrate as if the day is truly its last.

On this holiday, three intersecting sets of characters embark on a possibly last-chance quest for redemption. In Boston, bookish wunderkind Sarah is looking for love and maybe a cosmic reversal from the much older Kurt, a tattoo artist she met at last year’s Last Day BBQ—but he’s still trying to make amends to the family he destroyed long ago. Dysfunctional Karen keeps getting into trouble, especially when the voices she’s been hearing coax her to abandon everything to search for her long-lost adoptive brother; her friend Rosette has left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to follow a new pastor at the Last Kingdom on Earth, where she brings Karen on this fateful day. Meanwhile, above them all, three astronauts on the International Space Station, Bear, an American; Russian Svec; and billionaire Japanese space tourist Yui, contemplate their lives as well as their precious Earth from afar. 

With sparkling wit, verbal ingenuity, and wild imagination, Ruta has created an alternate world in which an ancient holiday brings into stark reflection our deepest dreams, desires, hopes, and fears. In this tour-de-force debut novel she has written a dazzling, haunting love letter to humanity and to our planet. 


Praise for Last Day

“Mesmerizing. Last Day held me so powerfully in its orbit that I read it in one night. In Ruta's brilliant, large-hearted, and all-too-plausible debut, people prepare for an inevitable end-of-days by practicing a ritualistic annual apocalypse "holiday." On Last Day, totems are burned in bonfires, amends are made, sojourns taken, and at a storied Boston tattoo parlor, patrons get inked for free. This earth, like ours, is populated with beautifully flawed characters who are proficient at destroying--and resurrecting--their own lives, with or without the aid of a large-scale natural calamity.Each stunning sentence reminded me of all I love about our earth, and all that would be lost on a real Last Day. I'll be thinking of this novel for a very long time.”

Alena Graedon,
author of The Word Exchange


“In this woven novel we humans are love, are destruction, are wish and want. Domenica Ruta has created a portrait of humanity in a moment that is both the end and the beginning and this novel is urgent and true and filled with such beauty.

Ramona Ausubel,
author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One is Here Except All of Us


LAST DAY is a galaxy unto itself, a profound and incisive slice of our world on the edge of its inevitable end from a brilliant voice in American fiction.”

Amelia Gray,
author of Isadora

“Ruta delicately sketches the large cast of characters—as well as their dreams, fears, and failures—with care. She's able to pinpoint certain universal feelings with precision… A beautiful portrait of humanity in the shadow of a dying Earth.”



“Domenica Ruta has collected seven disconnected lives—each one heartbreaking and hilarious, flawed and exalted—and masterfully tied them together using rituals of loss and celebration. LAST DAY travels from outer space panoramas to palm-sized minutia, every paragraph punctuated with curious truths. I devoured this book and, much like the world itself, I didn’t want it to end.”

Adam Nemett,
author of We Can Save Us All


“Domenica Ruta’s empathy is broad and deep, her prose fine-grained, her humor sharp but tender. Last Day is a life-affirming antidote to these pre-apocalyptic times.”

Teddy Wayne,
author of Loner


“After making a splash with her memoir, With or Without You (2013), Ruta returns with an inventive first novel. Ruta imagines that people have been observing Last Day on May 28th for centuries, coming together to celebrate life on Earth as though it might all end at any moment…. an entertaining and clever speculative tale.”



With or Without You

Published by Penguin Random House

Domenica Ruta grew up in a working-class, unforgiving town north of Boston, in a trash-filled house on a dead-end road surrounded by a river and a salt marsh. Her mother, Kathi, a notorious local figure, was a drug addict and sometimes dealer whose life swung between welfare and riches, and whose highbrow taste was at odds with her hardscrabble life. And yet she managed, despite the chaos she created, to instill in her daughter a love of stories. Kathi frequently kept Domenica home from school to watch such classics as the Godfather movies and everything by Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, telling her, “This is more important. I promise. You’ll thank me later.” And despite the fact that there was not a book to be found in her household, Domenica developed a love of reading, which helped her believe that she could transcend this life of undying grudges, self-inflicted misfortune, and the crooked moral code that Kathi and her cohorts lived by.

With or Without You is the story of Domenica Ruta’s unconventional coming of age—a darkly hilarious chronicle of a misfit ’90s youth and the necessary and painful act of breaking away, and of overcoming her own addictions and demons in the process. In a brilliant stylistic feat, Ruta has written a powerful, inspiring, compulsively readable, and finally redemptive story about loving and leaving.