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'The End Of October' ominously prescient of Covid-19

Monday - May 18, 2020 8:25 pm , Category : ART & LITERATURE
New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) Doomsday theories have been flying thick and fast ever since the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic that has affected close to 5 million people and claimed nearly 400,000 lives
(as of May 18). Now comes a book that maps out an ominously prescient nightmare.
"The End Of October" (Penguin Random House) begins at an internment camp in Indonesia where 47 people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons – a microbiologist and epidemiologist – travels there on behalf of the World Health
Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe as an infected man is on his way to joining the millions of worshippers in the annual Haj to Makkah.
Parson then joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city; A Russian emigre, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare; already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by
one, in the face of a pandemic; Parsons's wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta; the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions - scientific, religious, governmental and decimating the population.
Sounds familiar with what's been happening around the world since the coronavirus strain was first detected in Wuhan? Packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, this is a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.
Wright is a is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a playwright, a screenwriter, and the author of 10 books of nonfiction, including "The Looming Tower", "Going Clear" and "God Save Texas", and one novel, "God's Favorite. His books have received many honours, including a Pulitzer Prize for "The Looming Tower". He and his wife are long-time
residents of Austin, Texas.
This is the second book in the last year-and-a-half to deal with the global spread of a deadly virus.
In "The Butterfly Effect" (Niyogi Books) by Rajat Chaudhuri, North Korean agents steal an untested genetically modified rice variety from a UK lab and carry it back to Korea, which cross-pollinates crops and triggers an epidemic of rapid aging across the continent with high fatalities.
The prestigious Nature journal had reported in March about the arrest of a Harvard chemistry chief for making false statements about receiving research funding from China. It is alleged that he received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Wuhan University of Technology (WUT) in China and agreed to lead a lab there.
In the Indian novel, a scientist working in Britain unknowingly engineers a dangerous variety of GM rice which wreaks havoc among the Asian population.
The storylines of the two books are different but the cause and effect are similar. Frightening, to say the least.

--IANS vm/sdr/