I’ve been doing my best to learn from the examples set by writers who lived through past epidemics – Sherwood Anderson, Beatrix Potter, and W.E.B. Du Bois (all of whom wrote during the 1918 flu outbreak); and Francesco Petrarca, Thomas Nash, and William Shakespeare (who penned some of their greatest works during Europe’s deadliest plagues).
The above excerpt is from a piece I posted here in September 2020.
As far as I know, none of those plays or novels were about influenza or plague, but today it seems some writers are indeed writing about covid. One of them is Anne Tyler, whose novel French Bread deals with a retired couple whose adult son and grandson move in with them during the pandemic; and Sigrid Nunez (author of a 2010 novel Salvation City that dealt with the 1918 flue epidemic) who is reportedly working on a new book about the early days of the pandemic.
But what about horror writers?
To find out, I’ll be dropping by Confluence this weekend to moderate a panel titled The Pandemic’s Impact on Horror Fiction. Here’s the description from the convention’s program book:
Horror fiction about pandemics has been popular for a long time, and includes classic works such as I Am Legend and The Stand. But how has the recent pandemic impacted horror fiction and how it deals with pandemics?
I’ll endeavor to report some of their comments in a future post, but for my part, I’d like to add Mary Shelley’s novel The Last Man to the panel’s description. Perhaps not as widely known as I am Legend or The Stand (both of which have benefited from being adapted to the big and small screens), Shelley’s novel is prescient in its consideration of commercial air travel, war in the Middle East, and a 21st-century pandemic.
If there are recent works of horror and science fiction that deal with the current pandemic, I trust the panelists will know about them. So … if you’re planning to attend Confluence this weekend, consider joining the discussion at 6:00 on Friday. Otherwise, I’ll hope to include some of the panel’s recommendations in a future post.
The image at the top of this page is from the article “Shakespeare and the Plague,” which appeared in The Sunday Times, 19 April 2020.