James O'Brien 10am - 1pm
"I wrote a global pandemic novel as a warning to people that it could happen"
30 April 2020, 16:33
Pulitzer Prize Winner Lawrence Wright told LBC about his newly released global pandemic fiction ‘The End of October' which he started in 2017, a world before coronavirus.
Mr Wright said he wrote the book because he "wanted to give a warning that it could happen."
"After talking to all the health experts I interviewed, I was pretty sure it would happen. They all said it would but nobody knew when," he said, "certainly we didn't time the publication for this outbreak."
The novel is about a virus that starts in Asia and sweeps the planet, upending nations' health services and damages the economy as well as killing many - this narrative tragically parallels our own pandemic.
"It's exactly the way that so many health experts and so many table top exercises and other sources expected it to happen. It was all well known in the public health community but apparently the messages didn't reach to the higher levels of government," said Lawrence Wright.
In the novel, the virus is "not as contagious" as Covid-19 but it is more virulent, he said, likening it to the 1918 Spanish Flu.
"The progress of the disease in my novel, which is strangely, eerily like what's going on right now, is modelled on the appearance of the Spanish Flu in February 1918 and its progress then. It dies out in the summer and comes back with a terrible killer wave in October."
He told Darren he'd turned the book in back in July 2019 and wrote to booksellers in who had advanced copies in December that he hoped it would never happen.
"Almost immediately it did."
The author said that while the timing of this novel is not ideal, readers have told him they feel "consoled" as it has led them to understand how viruses work and the courage of those on the frontline fighting.