In the Book World, Fictional Epidemics Are All the Rage

Including one 1981 Dean Koontz novel with some eerie parallels

Dean Koontz
Author Dean Koontz in 2012
Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
By Kirk Miller / March 11, 2020 11:37 am

Well, we’re reading more. That’s the good news.

Worries about the coronavirus seems to have inspired some like-minded reading habits, with epidemic-themed novels now back on the bestsellers list.

So far the literary beneficiaries of the virus scare include Albert Camus’s The Plague, Stephen King’s The Stand and Dean Koontz’s The Eyes of Darkness, a 1981 novel about a fictional virus called Wuhan-400 (we’ve already got the conspiracy video connecting this year’s events with that novel). Other newer books, like Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Ling Ma’s Severance, are also seeing an uptick in sales, especially at indie bookstores.

According to The Guardian, e-books sales of Koontz’s prophetic novel are up 3000 percent in three weeks. Sales of King and Camus’s books are up between 58-300 percent.

Also seeing renewed interest: The 2012 video game Plague Inc and the Steven Soderbergh film Contagion, which is back in the top 20 on Apple’s rental chart. Oddly, not a lot of non-fiction is making waves, and the Netflix top 10 doesn’t contain anything with viruses or plagues (maybe people should be watching this docuseries).

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