Species History/New History

Different Remembering in Claire Cameron’s The Last Neanderthal


  • Sherif H. Ismail University of Pennsylvania


New genetic and paleontological findings published since 2010 offer conclusive evidence that early humans interbred with Neanderthals in prehistory, and that present-day humans inherit percentage of Neanderthal DNA. In her 2017 novel, The Last Neanderthal, Canadian author Claire Cameron offers a new representation of Neanderthals in response to these findings. While correcting a history of othering of Neanderthals in the Western imagination, Cameron’s dual-narrative novel links past and present and affords us the opportunity to reconsider our relationship with Neanderthals as transtemporal continuity that incorporates death and life, extinction and survival. Speculatively, this continuity is possibly extendable to other species and to the natural world. In the long view of human history, this continuity offers ethical pathways for species thinking in the Anthropocene.