Pip Adam and City Gallery Book Club return, with a twist. The world has been turned upside by Covid-19. Planes are grounded, galleries are closed, social distancing has become the new norm, and staying in is the new going out. What are people reading and watching in the global pandemic? Tiger King. Yes, but in a counterintuitive move, many are turning to books and films about pandemics. In February, Penguin UK reports that sales of Albert Camus’s The Plague are up 150% on last year. The novel sold out on Amazon and went swiftly into reprint. The 2011 Steven Soderbergh movie Contagion has also soared in popularity. According to Warner Brothers, it was number 270 in its catalogue in December, but has now jumped to number two, outranked only by the Harry Potter movies.
This special Coronavirus edition of Book Club will begin with a discussion of Camus's novel and Soderbergh's film, and move on to what experiencing a pandemic has been like. It's a Book Club built on the idea of reading the virus, in all its implied levels. Recorded on the nation’s new favourite platform Zoom, the panel will live stream to your bubble via our YouTube channel at 8.30pm. The discussion will also be broadcast on RadioActive's show Caffeine and Aspirin on Saturday 16 May from 10am. (You can listen here if you miss it.)
The panel will discuss:
- Stephen Soderbergh Contagion
- Albert Camus The Plague
- Vanessa Crofskey You Treat Us Like We’re the Virus (The Pantograph Punch, 5 April 2020)
- Arundhati Roy The Pandemic Is a Portal (Financial Times, 4 April 2020)
- Zadie Smith The American Exception (The New Yorker, 10 April 2020)
- John Summers Man Reads The Plague during the Plague (Newsroom, 14 April 2020)
- Sam Brooks The Highs, the Lows, and the WTFs of One World: Together at Home (The Spinoff, 19 April 2020)
Rosabel Tan is a writer, strategist, and producer. She is the Director of Satellites (a series of events, exhibitions, and encounters exploring the contemporary experience of the Asian diaspora in Aotearoa) and the founding editor of arts-and-culture publication The Pantograph Punch.
John Summers is the author of the non-fiction collection The Mermaid Boy (Hue and Cry Press, 2015). His essays have appeared in Sport, North and South, The Spinoff, and Newsroom. He was a finalist in the 2019 Voyager Media Awards, and, in 2016, won the non-fiction category in the Sunday Star Times short-story awards.
Megan Dunn is the author of Tinderbox (Galley Beggar Press, 2017) and an art writer. In 2019, she was co-editor of The Spinoff art section, before taking up the role of Head of Audience Engagement and Education at City Gallery Wellington. Her next book, Things I Learned at Art School, will be published in 2020, and, warning, includes mermaids.