I like the idea of curated reading, reading around a theme or topic creates an experience more than the sum of its parts and gives you, the reader, a sense of historicity and for those obsessive completers allows you to tick off those key texts.
This is in no way an attempt to provide a complete list of all end of the world writing and I can take little credit for these suggestions [ Thank you P – best read of friends] but in uncertain times we need uncertain reading.
so, in no particular order –
Cormac McCarthy – 2006
If you’ve only seen the film, the book is a very different experience, quiet, beautiful and madly optimistic in a bleak lost world. It asks a question at the heart of many of these end of the world writing, when all values have gone, how exactly do you know if you are still the good guys?
The Death of Grass -John Christopher – 1956
Yes- it’s a little dated, but its depiction of the collapse of British culture, law and order within weeks of a plague that destroys all grass based crops is beautifully observed and like the best of these end of the world novels, it focuses on the experiences of ordinary people and how quickly they loose the patina of civillisation
Christopher Priest – FUGUE FOR DARKENING ISLAND
What happens to Britain when drought, pestilence and disaster destroy the African continent, originally written in 1972 – with a more recent re-write, it makes for uneasy reading.