“Fear, like the thought of dying, makes us feel alone, but the recognition that we are all experiencing a similar anguish draws us out of our loneliness,” Orhan Pamuk wrote while the world was in the grip of the pandemic. During lockdown, I turned to dystopian fiction to feed my own grim curiosity about disaster and survival and to feel less isolated during the first six long months of quarantine.

People around the globe sought relief in apocalyptic novels that mirrored our uncertain reality. Many turned to Stephen King’s 1978 doorstopper, The Stand, about a particularly lethal and rather disgusting influenza outbreak. Others revisited Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven, my top pick from 2014, which portrays  art as a source of meaning, offering stability and endurance in a terrifying world. I buried myself in Bethany Clift’s darkly funny, unsettling Last One at the Party, one of the early forays into fiction about our very own plague...

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