COVID-19: A LITERARY RESPONSE?

I was chatting with someone on an internet forum (remember those? There are still some running quite actively!) earlier today about various things to do with Covid-19 etc. when he said he was waiting for the explosion of creative works based on and around the outbreak, particularly zombie movies and TV series.

I nodded sagely – he couldn’t see of course, this was on the net and he is in Australia – and then I stopped nodding and started thinking.

I have already jumped on the bandwagon in a way, pointing people towards my piece of short fiction ‘Virus’. This, although relevant was written about the Ebola outbreak some years ago rather than being a rapid response to these events. But I wondered how true this would be in the medium to long term.

No doubt there are short ephemeral pieces out there already, and they will continue to be generated. There are lots of issues and story lines to tackle, from straight reportage type pieces about heroic frontline medical workers and ordinary families hit by the virus, through to much larger existential issues about our place on earth, whether we have sown the seeds of our own destruction and much more inbetween.

However, will it generate a genre, a corpus of work?

I know times have changed dramatically since 1918/19, particularly in terms of artistic media, but does anyone know of or recall any works about or inspired by Spanish flu?

I suspect much literary and artistic attention was focused on the events of 1914-18 and its huge impact on the social, economic and political world, never mind the human dramas. Even though Spanish flu killed far more people than did the war.

At the moment there is no world event of the scale and nature of the Great War to compete for attention, (can Brexit  compare? Do US trade wars with China and the EU hold a candle?) with the pandemic (such an emotive word for a technical idea).

Will the virus, after a suitably appropriate interval depending on its worldwide impact, inspire great literature and art? Or will it be the parent of a lot of pop/pulp/schlock, forgotten in a decade or less?

Am I tempted?

Not sure how I feel about it all at the moment.

Anyone out there half finished the next bestseller based on the Coronavirus outbreak?

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