Inevitably, every major global event affects the cultural production coming after it. So what will literature produced after and about a pandemic look like? Literary Hub senior editor Emily Temple offers suggestions for soon-to-arrive COVID-19 novels.
Here’s an excerpt.
It was only three days into our self-isolation that my husband turned to me and said: “Isn’t it depressing that we already know Ben Lerner will write the best American novel about this?”
“The real question is,” said a novelist friend that night on FaceTime, “will anyone even be interested in reading about this once it’s over? I, for one, am already sick of it.”
In the Times, Sloane Crosley published a brief essay about the inevitability of a coming storm of coronavirus novels. “For writers, as the tentacles of the coronavirus unfurl each day, everything is copy,” she writes. “But what happens when every writer on the planet starts taking notes on the same subject? Will we all hand in our book reports simultaneously, a year from now?” She warns of the dangers of writing about tragedy without waiting for enough time to pass (and she’s not alone: “If you’re writing fiction about this, please don’t,” Amber Sparks tweeted. “Give it twenty years.”), but thinks we’re all going to do it anyway.
Well, maybe we are, and maybe we aren’t, but let’s dispense with a few things right away. Despite the persistent narrative to the contrary, many people do not have an abundance of free time right now. Lots of people, particularly those with children, and particularly women, have significantly less free time. (“Take notes during this time!” well-meaning writers chirp on Twitter. “Keep a diary of how you feel every day! It will be a record of these times!” Who knew the pandemic was going to come with this much homework?)
Read the full piece on Literary Hub.