the Literature of Pandemic
The stories of plagues past, both truth and fiction, can help us make sense
of what’s happening now.
Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye-meets-Romeo and Juliet-meets-CSI. In a plague-ridden Mexican city, a fixer for the Mob known as The Redeemer is tasked with preventing urban warfare when two rival narco families end up with the dead bodies of each other's dearest child. Yuri Herrera works magic in a mere 100 pages, transporting you to a breathtakingly realized world, where, hiding under the neo-noir surface, the real stakes are no less than the mediating limits of language itself. Herrera, himself, exceeds.
There is the premise of the book: a post-apocalyptic New York City full of the fevered who are doomed to repeat their everyday routines and daily tasks like zombies until they waste away and die; the protagonist, a young Chinese-American woman who joins a ragtag group of survivors headed to a facility near Chicago. And then there are the stomach-dropping, mindboggling scenes of horror, and the general feeling of unease or straight-out nausea that you feel reflected in the recognition of these portrayals of the hamster wheel of late capitalism.
“The oldest hath borne most; we that are young/ Shall never see so much nor live so long.” -- from "King Lear." Told beautifully in both nonlinear and alternating perspectives over the course of fifteen years — before, after, and during the Collapse — "Station Eleven" weaves together characters while showing the ways in which their lives can be changed through even the most insignificant or trite moments and the troubles faced when ambition becomes obsession.
A city whose people are suddenly, inexplicably going blind...The ensuing collapse of social order serves as a perfect backdrop for a full gamut of humanity to play out: brutality, compassion, desperation, love, degradation, vulnerability, hope. Saramago's fluid, shifting prose strikes just the right balance of harrowing and understated.
An overwhelming chronology of systemic negligence and apathy.
A young woman waits out a plague ravaging the United States in a mysterious, isolated hospital. A surreal and emotional journey on par with Borges, Murakami, and Leonora Carrington.