Q&A with Allegra Hyde, author of Rumpus Book Club’s April pick, THE LAST CATASTROPHE


Our April 2023 Rumpus Book Club selection is Allegra Hyde‘s, The Last Catastrophe, a revelatory collection that reminds us our world is precious, and protecting it has the potential to bring us all together. We asked this month’s Book Club author a few questions to help readers get a sense of their work. Read our Q&A with Allegra Hyde below and subscribe by March 15 to the Book Club to receive this title and an invitation to an exclusive conversation with the author via Crowdcast.

Tell us about your book The Last Catastrophe? How do you hope it resonates with readers?

The Last Catastrophe is a collection of stories that speak to the idea of global weirding—meaning the ways in which our environments, social systems, technologies, politics, and more are being “weirded” by our changing climate. The stories use magic, metaphor, and absurdity to unpack what it means to live through late-stage capitalism and the grim realities of the Anthropocene. There are vegan zombies, unicorn girls, endangered artists, and parents wearing moose costumes. I hope readers find joy and possibility in the
stories, even as the collection wrestles with many forms of crisis.

Have you ever been in a Book Club as a reader? What’s been one of your favorite or least favorite picks and/or experiences?

There’s a gaping hole in my life where a Book Club should be.

What’s currently on your TBR list?

The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams
I’m Not Hungry But I Could Eat by Christopher Gonzalez
How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue
Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Tell us about your favorite writing accompaniment (music, snacks, etc.).

Music is key. I try to set a vibe that relates to what I’m writing. The other day, I was writing a scene set in a cave, so I played subterranean sounds. For a beach scene, I played spa music that incorporated ocean noises—crashing waves, seagulls, etc.—so music was thematic with the bonus quality of being calming. I’m also a big believer in hydration. I usually have at several vessels on my desk at
once—coffee, water, tea, Gatorade. Our brains are 75% water; I like to stay liquid.

What does your writing routine look like?

I preserve as much of my morning as I can for writing. Sometimes that means I’ll get in a half hour of work, sometimes a couple of hours. I like to read a little as a warm up, then free-write in my journal. From there, my process depends on what I’m working on. Often,
I’ll hand-write pages, then type them up, print them out, and handwrite them again. In this way, I really get to know the contours of my sentences; I try to spend time with every word.

What advice would you give to beginning writers?

Be loving and expansive in your early drafts and ruthless in your revisions. Take no prisoners. Take your time, but hold fast to your own sense of urgency. Listen carefully to the world around you and the one inside you as well. Be brave. Tell the truth.


Allegra Hyde is the author of the novel Eleutheria and the story collection Of This New World, which won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, The Best Small Fictions, The Best American Travel Writing, and elsewhere. She lives in Ohio and teaches at Oberlin College.

Learn more about The Rumpus Book Club here. More from this author →