Sunday, February 09, 2020

Five of the best books about pandemics

Laura Spinney is an author and science journalist. She has published two novels in English, The Doctor (2001) and The Quick (2007). Her third book of non-fiction, Rue Centrale, came out in 2013, and her fourth, a tale of the Spanish flu called Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World, was published in 2017.

At the Guardian, Spinney tagged five of the best books about pandemics, including:
The curious thing about pandemics is that novelists don’t seem to know what to do with them. You would think they would find rich material in a menace that brings out the best and worst in people, and that makes a mockery of all the ways we divide ourselves up – by colour, faith or postcode. But when they have written memorably about them, it tends to have been as allegories for something else – fascism, say, or war. There are exceptions, and Philip Roth’s novel Nemesis is one. Polio is on the prowl in Newark in the summer of 1944, and teacher Bucky Cantor’s girlfriend begs him to leave the city for the polio-free summer camp where she is working. Duty obliges him to stay with the kids in his charge, however, and when he finally does reach the camp, the disease follows him.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue