Girl at War
In her wrenching debut novel, Sara Nović shares a portrait of the Yugoslavian civil war. Ana, a young girl from a working class family with few friends, seeks asylum in the U.S. but must leave behind all she knows in order to preserve what remains of herself. It is a story of strength, of survival, and what it means to call a place home.
On Such a Full Sea
Set in a future where America has mostly recovered from a collapse, this novel follows a young woman who works at a fishery that supports wealthier colonies. Her future is stable, promising even, until the man she loves disappears. She pursues him across an unknown, surreal, and foreboding landscape. Meanwhile her dramatic departure from home and convention makes her a folk hero back home.
The Heart Goes Last
When a city collapses and a couple loses their jobs, they find themselves living in their car and desperate for a new life. Their luck changes when they join the Positron Project, a social experiment that offers them the home and safety they desired in exchange for stints spent living in a prison system.
Similar to the premise of Lee’s “On Such a Full Sea,” the characters in Colson Whitehead’s zombie novel have survived the end of the world. Rebuilding civilization, even one that must contend with the undead, means recreating many of the old power dynamics and drudgery we hoped would have gotten lost in the rubble.
Emily St. John Mandel
If you’ve somehow managed to not read this post-apocalyptic novel yet, you’d better get to it before it’s too late. “Station Eleven,” which was recognized by many major literary prizes and hailed by critics as one of the best books of 2014, is a tale of the survivors of a pandemic. The artifacts of modern times are preserved in a makeshift museum, while a traveling troupe of actors and musicians reminds us that “survival is insufficient.”
Never Let Me Go
At a school cloistered away in foreboding woods, a group of children are raised as organ donors for a distant and elite world. Their hope for an exception is bound in their belief that love or art will somehow set them free.
The humidity might linger for another few weeks, but let’s face it: Summer is over. The long since burnt out barbecues contain nothing but ash, the playgrounds are desolate, and at the deserted coast, unattended beach umbrellas blow across the sand like tumbleweeds. With visions like those, the end of summer can seem like the end of the world. While some choose to believe that the dog days are only “living on a farm upstate” and will come back to us soon, the rest of us have accepted that the season is dead and buried. Winter is indeed coming, and the time for those beach reads has passed. So before the nights get shorter, let’s embrace the darkness, the dystopian, and the disturbing.
Bookshelf curated by Benjamin Samuel.
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