Mon 30 May / 18:30 / Kings College London, WC2R 2LS / Free / Tickets
A global event like the recent pandemic cries out for artistic response of the kind that novels have the large imaginative capaciousness to supply. But what are the responsibilities of novelists here and should they turn to realism or dystopianism? Here three novelists will come together to explore the representability (or not) of the virus and lockdown, the ways the experience of the pandemic has opened vistas onto larger social issues, and the question of whether this whole moment requires imaginative transformation or meticulous reportage. Oana Aristide’s Under the Blue is an apocalyptic road novel set after a pandemic; Sarah Hall’s Burntcoat depicts two lovers facing frightening new forms of intimacy in a plague-ravaged world; Sarah Moss’s The Fell features a self-isolating woman driven mad by the confinement of lockdown. They will be in conversation with writer and critic Lara Feigel, co-director of the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture.
Oana Aristide was born in Transylvania, to parents of Romanian, Greek and Yemeni background. After the fall of Communism the family emigrated to Sweden. Oana has worked in the City of London as a macroeconomist, and as an advisor to the Romanian prime minister, but since 2018 she has lived for part of each year on a Greek island, converting a heritage villa into a hotel.
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria. Twice nominated for the Man Booker Prize, she is the award-winning author of five novels and three short-story collections: The Beautiful Indifference, which won the Edge Hill and Portico prizes, Madame Zero, winner of the East Anglian Book Award, and Sudden Traveller, shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction. She is currently the only author to be four times shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award, which she won in 2013 with ‘Mrs Fox’ and in 2020 with ‘The Grotesques’.
Sarah Moss is the author of seven novels, most recently Ghost Wall, Summerwater and The Fell. She was born in Glasgow, grew up in Manchester and now lives in Dublin, where she teaches Creative Writing at UCD. Sarah was interviewed in Issue 27 of The White Review.