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 really is the new going out.
What are people reading and watching in a global pandemic? Tiger King. Yes, but in a counterintuitive move, many are turning to books and films that are about a pandemic. In February, Penguin UK reported that sales of Albert Camus’s The Plague were 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, the film was listed as No. 270 in its catalogue in December, but, since early 2020, it has jumped to No. 2, outranked only by the Harry Potter movies.
This special Coronavirus edition of Book Club will begin with the discussion of the Camus novel and Soderbergh film but move into what experiencing a pandemic has been like in this era. It's a Book Club built on the idea of reading the virus, in all its implied levels.
The panel will discuss:
- Contagion Stephen Soderbergh
- The Plague Albert Camus
- You Treat Us Like We’re the Virus Vanessa Crofskey (Pantograph Punch, 5 April 2020)
- The Pandemic is a Portal Arundhati Roy (Financial Times, 4 April 2020)
- The American Exception Zadie Smith (The New Yorker, 10 April 2020)
- Man reads The Plague during the Plague John Summers (Newsroom, 14 April 2020)
- The Highs, the Lows and the WTFs of One World: Together at Home Sam Brooks (The Spinoff, 19 April 2020)
Our panelists include:
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 some mermaids.