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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.

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About Otosirieze Obi-Young

View all posts by Otosirieze Obi-Young
Otosirieze Obi-Young is a writer, journalist, & Deputy Editor of Brittle Paper. The recipient of the inaugural The Future Awards Prize for Literature in 2019, he is a judge for The Gerald Kraak Prize and was a judge for The Morland Writing Scholarship in 2019. He is Nonfiction Editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is Curator at The Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His work in queer equality advocacy in literature has been profiled in Literary Hub. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He has an M.A. in African Studies and a combined honours B.A. in History & International Studies/English & Literary Studies, both from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He taught English in a private Nigerian university. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

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