Electric Lit Presents: The Craft of Covid in Fiction
The dynamic, unpredictable nature of the pandemic has forced novelists to become pundits, predicting what the world will look like when their novels are published.
They also face unique craft challenges: how do masks affect dialogue, character descriptions, and scene? How do social distancing and quarantine warp relationship dynamics?
Rebecca Makkai chose to move the events of I Have Some Questions for You to 2018, but still had to negotiate Covid protocol for courtroom scenes set in 2022. The protagonist of Weike Wang’s Joan Is Okay is an emergency room doctor in New York City; when Covid hit, Wang revised the novel to feature overwhelmed hospitals. A deadly flu ravages the globe in Phase Six by Jim Shepard, and the lessons of the Covid pandemic are in the distant past.
These three novelists will discuss the drafting and revision process of their novels and explain how they tackled the ever-changing question of how Covid should factor into their work. Moderated by Halimah Marcus.
This year’s Masquerade of the Red Death is celebrating excellence in pandemic fiction with special guests and book giveaways at our party in Brooklyn on Friday, October 21, as well as related virtual salons. This salon is free for Masquerade ticket-holders*, $10 for the general public, and $5 for EL members.
*Masquerade ticket holders will receive an email with a discount code to register for free.