Lockdown Lit
What are you reading to make it through that you think others might turn to for sustenance? A&U writers/editors weighed in.

During incarceration, I’ve finished two books in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series. The Hogarth Press has commissioned well-known novelists to retell one of the Shakespeare plays. I’ve read Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar (a retelling of King Lear) and Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed (a spectacular retelling of The Tempest). Next up: Jo Nesbo’s Macbeth.—Hank Trout, Senior Editor

The Plague by Albert Camus. Also, Travesty by John Hawkes, a novella that metaphorically predicts the driver of a car who takes the reader and the passengers on a wild ride. The passengers have no idea that their wealthy host and driver plans on ending their road trip in a suicidal crash-up.—David Waggoner, Editor in Chief and Publisher

The Hangman’s Daughter series by German author Oliver Pötzsch. They’re a compelling and well-researched series of mysteries set in seventeenth-century Bavaria and based on the author’s ancestors. Seven books in total and all available via Kindle Unlimited.
—John Francis Leonard, columist and literary critic

I love escaping to Sicily, a place I’ve never visited but want to, with the Inspector Montalbano mystery series, penned by Andrea Camilleri. Knowing that Italy is going through the same sort of pandemic as New York City, where I live, makes me want to cross this literary bridge even more. If new to the series, start with The Shape of Water, the first book.—Chael Needle, Managing Editor

These days I’ve been reading Richard Powers’ Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Overstory. I wouldn’t call myself a proverbial treehugger but this is a remarkable story that explores the lives of people who come together as activists because of trees. The writing is very rich and sharp in a good way. Each character in the beginning was introduced with a long chapter, and then what? Another character? Eventually these characters do meet. By that point you already have a clear view of who these people are without needing to deal with another exposition smackeroo to explain each character’s background in the middle of the action. I’m only halfway through the book at the moment so I can’t yet say if the story is ultimately satisfying and worthy of its Pulitzer, but I really needed to read something epic that would take me far away from the coronavirus pandemic and yet remind me of the preciousness of our planet Earth.—Raymond Luczak, Fiction Editor

I am currently reading two critically-acclaimed novels that center on the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s: Tim Murphy’s saga of NYC’s Lower East Side, Christodora, and Rebecca Makkai’s sprawling The Great Believers, that begins in Chicago, and ends in Paris. Both books are intimate, yet epic, page-turners that vividly portray life during the early years of the epidemic – and beyond.—Bruce Ward, Drama Editor

“Courage is no good: It means not scaring others.” So perfectly wrong, so maddeningly right. Endure and enjoy. Philip Larkin’s Collected Poems is the one book that has given me more pleasure and solace, over thirty years, than any other.—Jay Vithalani, Nonfiction Editor

The beginning of the year found me rereading George Orwell’s Complete Novels. I’d read about his life and about losing his life to TB in preparation for my interview with Paul Thorn, author of Diary of a Modern Consumptive [A&U, December 2018], hence, Orwell’s name had been on my mind. Plus, I hadn’t read his work in a long while, and thought it was a good time to revisit it. But then COVID-19 happened and I found myself drawn to some of my go-to authors and books, such are books by author Hans M. Hirschi. Look forward to reading his new novel, Matt–More than Words, which came out on April 30.—Alina Oswald, Arts Editor ◊