Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic

There was a time – two months or so ago – when readers flocked to dystopian fiction so that they might imagine  what strange, dark days might lay ahead. Now that we’re all living through something that feels a bit like sci-fi itself, futuristic fiction is still there to help us envision and contemplate the way forward.

In Mike Chen’s Beginning at the End, it felt pretty apocalyptic when the viral epidemic known as MGS wiped out 70% of the world’s population. But the world didn’t end, and six years later we join three residents of San Francisco as they emerge from social isolation into a city and a world that is different, yet in many ways still the same. Rob’s young daughter doesn’t yet know that her mother has died. Struggling former wedding-planner Krista escaped her own abusive family under cover of the plague, and now counsels traumatized survivors. Former pop star Moira’s life has been reinvented in surprising ways during the epidemic. Chen’s perceptive, empathetic novel helps us to process realities not so very different from our own. Continue reading “Imagining Life, Post-Pandemic”

Tuberculosis in Novels and Film

Last week we posted about the history and science of tuberculosis to highlight the upcoming World TB Day program coming to the Central Library on March 24. This week, let’s take a dive into representations of tuberculosis in literature and movies.

If you like historical fiction at all, you’ve heard of the heroine who tragically died of consumption—or, in modern terms, tuberculosis. There are characters in Dostoyevsky’s novels Crime and Punishment and The Idiot who suffered from tuberculosis, and Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain actually takes place in a TB sanitarium. The scathing novel The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, relates how Chicago’s meatpackers were exposed to the disease through their work, and The Constant Gardener by John Le Carré deals presciently with TB testing and drug resistance. Also, Northwest writer Betty McDonald’s memoir The Plague and I humorously relates her experiences fighting what was then a frightening disease. Continue reading “Tuberculosis in Novels and Film”

World TB Day at the Central Library

TB IS THE WORLD’S #1 INFECTIOUS DISEASE KILLER.  EVEN MORE THAN AIDS.  If you found that statistic surprising, you’re not alone!  Tuberculosis seems like something our grandparents dealt with and then it sort of petered out, but that’s not the case.  It is widespread, and many of the more virulent forms in today’s world are resistant to regular antibiotics.

But there are people working to turn this around, and many of the amazing local forces in the field will be on hand as the Central Library hosts World TB Day this March 24 (including a panel of experts moderated by KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna).  Stop by the downtown library at 5:30 to browse exhibits, talk with representatives from seven organizations, and enjoy light refreshments, and then join us at 6pm for a panel discussion about the fight against TB. Continue reading “World TB Day at the Central Library”