BIG READ: The cruelty, violence, absurdity and hope of 1986
William Dicey’s latest work of non-fiction joins a global sub-canon of books tied to specific years
In 1986, Halley’s comet reached perihelion, its point closest to the sun, for the first time since 1910. The Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, and so did a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant. Mozambican president Samora Machel died in a suspicious air crash and Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was gunned down in Stockholm. Diego Maradona scored his “Hand of God” goal against England in the 1986 World Cup.
At the 27th Congress of the Communist Party in Moscow, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the keywords of his mandate: “Glasnost” and “Perestroika”. The ANC in exile could no longer count on the same level of Soviet support — in 1985, the shopping list had run to 60 cars, six buses, 240 tonnes of soap, 16,000 tubes of toothpaste and 4,000 brassieres...