Much of the world is locked down as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, and normal routines have been dramatically changed. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on things I usually love, which include watching films (preferably at the cinema) and reading voraciously.
Here are a few thematic ideas for books and films that might give some kind of insight into how to cope during a global pandemic.
- José Eduardo Agualusa, A General Theory of Oblivion (Angola): a fictional account of a woman who, on the eve of Angolan independence, bricks herself into her apartment in Luanda and survives there alone for decades.
- José Saramago, Blindness (Portugal): if you think your own country is mismanaging the current pandemic, then take comfort in the fact that they’re not doing as bad a job as the authorities in this book.
- Marlen Haushofen, The Wall (Austria): a woman finds herself cut off from the rest of mankind after she discovers that a mysterious wall has cut her off from the rest of humanity, including her own children, who are all presumed dead. See, it could be worse.
- Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (Netherlands): world-famous testament to an incredibly talented writer and to the suffering and endurance of her and her family, who were forced to take refuge in a secret annex in Amsterdam under constant fear of discovery during the Second World War.
- Ling Ma, Severance (China/USA): a satirical, fictional look at the world from the first perspective of a first generation millennial negotiating life in the USA after humanity has been brought low by a global pandemic.
- Margaret Atwood, The Testaments (Canada): another kind of dystopia, but at least its different enough from the one that we’re currently inhabiting.
- Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven (USA): unexpectedly uplifting view of society after a pandemic, and an appreciation of the power of culture to save humanity.
- Tété-Michel Kpomassie, An African in Greenland (Togo): an account of an incredible journey by an incredible man. A work of non-fiction travelogue and memoir to inspire your own imaginary or real post-epidemic global adventures.
- Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho (South Korea): contains essential advice on how to lie low in the basement of someone else’s luxury home for an extended period of time, for free.
- Monos by Alejandro Landes (Colombia): beautiful if brutal setting and a nice reminder that at least you’ve not been taken hostage by a brutal teenage guerrilla group.