Homing In | Books

Our Coronavirus lockdown reading list for you

There have been plenty of viruses in the literary world. This time, we look at the ‘Contagion’ equivalent for books: about pandemics, real and imaginary

Many people are talking about Dean Koontz’s The Eyes of Darkness (first published in 1981) as having predicted the coronavirus pandemic. The book talks about a fictional virus called Wuhan-400, developed as a biological weapon. However, in the initial editions, the virus was called Gorki-400 after a city in Russia, where it is supposed to have originated. It was changed to a Chinese city sometime in 1990s.

Even Asterix fought a Coronavirus in 2017 (Asterix and the Chariot Race). But there’ve been plenty of viruses, bacteria and more in the literary world. For those who would like to read about pandemics — real or imaginary — here’s a list.

Our Coronavirus lockdown reading list for you

‘A Journal of the Plague Year’ by Daniel Defoe (1722)

In 1665, London was ravaged by the Great Plague (bubonic plague) and Defoe’s novel takes the form of an eyewitness account. Praised as an accurate and technically correct account of that horrifying time, historians believe the book was based on the diaries of Defoe’s uncle since the author himself was just five years old in 1665.

‘The Plague’ by Albert Camus (1947)

The book is about a plague-stricken city in Algeria (the city of Oran actually suffered an epidemic of cholera in 1849) but is open to multiple readings: Third Reich, hyper-capitalism, mankind’s greed and tendency to overreach itself. No matter what you think, it remains relevant 73 years after its publication.

Our Coronavirus lockdown reading list for you

‘The Andromeda Strain’ by Michael Crichton (1969)

A military satellite returns to Earth carrying an extra-terrestrial organism that manages to wipe out an entire town in Arizona by clotting people’s blood, before scientists get involved in the fight to stop the organism from mutating and spreading. Definitely a page-turner.

‘The Stand’ by Stephen King (1978)

And in this one, a pandemic of modified influenza finishes off pretty much the entire world. The survivors band together in different groups that then have to confront each other to continue to exist. A Complete Uncut edition was published in 1990.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:23:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/coronavirus-lockdown-reading-list/article31161602.ece

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