Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Seven novels that give you hope before devastating you

Sadi Muktadir is a writer from Toronto. His debut novel is Land of No Regrets. His short stories have appeared in Joyland Magazine, the Humber Literary Review, Blank Spaces, The New Quarterly and other places.

Muktadir is a two-time finalist for the Thomas Morton Memorial Prize in Literary Excellence and twice shortlisted for the Malahat Open Season Awards for best short fiction.

At Electric Lit he tagged seven novels where things go from bad to worseseven novels where things go from bad to worse, including:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go is a novel set in a fictional boarding school, where we’re introduced to a sci-fi-y, speculative setting where some humans are bred to simply donate their organs and then die. In this pursuit, these donors are given these really nice lives where they’re healthy, eat well, get exercise, but also build strange social relationships as they slowly learn what their fates are to be. Stunted, awkward and depressed, they mostly lead short lives with loose connections with one another. We are introduced to hope through the rumours of donation exemptions granted to the doomed if they are in love and can prove it. Two characters, who are very much in love, hold onto this hope and start to build up little pieces of evidence of their love, like drawings or artwork they create. Slowly, readers start to learn about small pieces of evidence that support this theory, like older folks who are still alive and matriculated at these institutions, or stories about couples who were shown mercy. They might make it out right? And shut down the boarding school for good? Turns out, exemptions aren’t granted, it was all just that, rumours. Everyone you grow to love and hope for dies and we’re left to reflect on the human cost of development when an identity supersedes the value of a soul.
Read about another entry on the list.

Never Let Me Go is on Scott Alexander Howard's list of eight titles from across the world about isolation, Kat Sarfas's list of thirteen top dark academia titles, Raul Palma's list of seven stories about falling into debt, Akemi C. Brodsky's list of five academic novels that won’t make you want to return to school, Claire Fuller's list of seven top dystopian mysteries, Elizabeth Brooks's list of ten great novels with unreliable narrators, Lincoln Michel's top ten list of strange sci-fi dystopias, Amelia Morris's lits of ten of the most captivating fictional frenemies, Edward Ashton's eight titles about what it means to be human, Bethany Ball's list of the seven weirdest high schools in literature, Zak Salih's eight books about childhood pals—and the adults they become, Rachel Donohue's list of seven coming-of-age novels with elements of mystery or the supernatural, Chris Mooney's list of six top intelligent, page-turning, genre-bending classics, James Scudamore's top ten list of books about boarding school, Caroline Zancan's list of eight novels about students and teachers behaving badly, LitHub's list of the ten books that defined the 2000s, Meg Wolitzer's ten favorite books list, Jeff Somers's lists of nine science fiction novels that imagine the future of healthcare and "five pairs of books that have nothing to do with each other—and yet have everything to do with each other" and eight tales of technology run amok and top seven speculative works for those who think they hate speculative fiction, a list of five books that shaped Jason Gurley's Eleanor, Anne Charnock's list of five favorite books with fictitious works of art, Esther Inglis-Arkell's list of nine great science fiction books for people who don't like science fiction, Sabrina Rojas Weiss's list of ten favorite boarding school novels, Allegra Frazier's top four list of great dystopian novels that made it to the big screen, James Browning's top ten list of boarding school books, Jason Allen Ashlock and Mink Choi's top ten list of tragic love stories, Allegra Frazier's list of seven characters whose jobs are worse than yours, Shani Boianjiu's list of five top novels about coming of age, Karen Thompson Walker's list of five top "What If?" books, Lloyd Shepherd's top ten list of weird histories, and John Mullan's lists of ten of the best men writing as women in literature and ten of the best sentences as titles.

--Marshal Zeringue