September 26, 2020

11 books not to forget about the coronavirus this summer


During the first weeks of the pandemic, the publishing market found a way to get around the economic crisis without forgetting the health crisis: publish titles about what was lived or retrieve others from its catalog that would help to understand the new pathogen. At that moment, there were voices that considered him hasty. Confinement was not yet over and research to find the vaccine had just started, but the literary labels already announced essays and fiction books focused on the coronavirus. Considering that the “new normal” has not made it disappear, reading about it now is more appropriate than ever. First, not to relax more than usual this summer, but also to learn about epidemiological concepts, antecedents and the medical and sociological consequences that await us.

From scientists to historians, sociologists, environmental scientists and journalists, many authors have written chronicles of the future, of the present, but especially of how the past can help fight the virus. Here are some interesting literary novelties to exercise the memory of what you experienced during these holidays.

Pandemic, by Sonia Shah (Captain Swing)

This researcher and scientific speaker published Pandemic in 2017, when the word was a great unknown to the West despite the fact that more than three hundred infectious diseases have emerged worldwide in the last fifty years. Shah has renewed the prologue to, not without a tone of reproach, adapt it to what happened with the coronavirus. Long before the arrival of COVID-19, almost all epidemiologists agreed that a virus would cause a deadly pandemic for generations to come: Ebola, bird flu, or something entirely new. In the end, the last option has been tragically imposed, but Shah takes advantage to take the colors off the world leaders who neglected the public health of the entire planet to the point of lacking tools to face this emergency.

Contagion, by David Quammen (Debate)

In Shah’s line, Quammen, a 72-year-old scientific disseminator, is not surprised by the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis. What does surprise and disappoint is the attitude of governments to the front of this deadly microorganism. In Contagion, the American pursues the bat accused of being the source of various viruses, from SARS to Ebola, and traces other zoonotic diseases. To do this, travel in the company of the best scientists in the world to the Central African jungle, the caves of southern China or the rooftops of Bangladesh, but also to sophisticated laboratories whose staff investigate deadly viruses under the highest security measures. Quammen talks about animals, but he does not forget the greatest culprit for the spread of any pandemic: the human being.

A day in the life of a virus, by Miguel Pita (Peripheral)

The doctor in Genetics and Cell Biology Miguel Pita explains in this book how a scattered fragment of genetic material can paralyze an entire civilization in the 21st century and cause so many deaths. Mixing scientific rigor with daily and highly visual casuistry, Pita achieves what every popularizer should propose today to bring the complicated acronyms of the virus closer to the population that suffers from it. That will be the only way to make it aware of its spread: “The virus has come across a species that will not make it difficult for it: it populates the entire planet with more than seven million inhabitants who do not stop moving from one place to another and he lives a frantic existence that gives him a curious and false sense of superiority and immortality ”, writes the young researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid.

The deadliest threatby Michael T. Osterhom (Planet)

Three years ago, one of the world’s most prestigious epidemiologists wrote a subtitle book, Our war on pandemics and how to avoid the next one, as if he had had a crystal ball. Michael T. Osterhom was one of the first AIDS researchers and has been warning for years that humanity’s greatest threat was not a war, but a pandemic. In this prophetic title, the expert gives certain sensible plans that would help leaders manage a virus without cure that threatens not only lives, but the economy of the entire planet.

The days of fever, by Andrés Felipe Solano (Today’s Topics)

Written from Seoul, the testimony of Felipe Solano anticipates everything that weeks later would worry in Europe until later spreading to the rest of the planet. South Korea, in addition, has been the country most praised for its health and citizen management of the crisis. With all these external ingredients, The days of fever It is an analysis of the lucid or controversial restrictions of a country that we never looked at and that ended up being universal measures, as well as the uncertainty about the future: Will disinfection brigades be the new firefighters? How will we relate emotionally through the masks? What will shared solitude be like in the company of twenty people?

A planet of virusesby Karl Zimmer (Captain Swing)

“Viruses are fascinating creatures that throughout the last centuries have been considered both as living beings and as simple pieces of lifeless RNA stuck to proteins; they are also the simplest and at the same time the most sophisticated organic structures, the first and last stages of the evolution of life on the planet “, reviewed in Consumption Clear. And this is how the scientific popularizer Zimmer describes them in A planet of viruses, a review of the history of these forms of life as tiny as they are terrible and that have marked our life as a species much more than we think.

If you can, don’t go to the doctor, by Antonio Sitges-Serra (Debate)

Despite the title’s contradictory message with the current moment, Dr. Sitges-Serra’s essay actually seeks to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry that has become the owner in the shadow of health systems. However, his book is not without a provocative approach, also criticizing a hypochondriacal society, over-diagnosed and, in his opinion, saturates health systems many times without justification. The former head of surgery at the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona inferred in his book that both public and private medicine suffer the consequences of technolatry, the desire for profit and the thirst for prestige that stand between the doctor and the patient.

Pandemonium, notes on the disaster, by Jorge Alemán (NED)

Jorge Alemán dialogues in this book with some of the most important thinkers of the present (such as the Italian Giorgio Agamben) on how COVID-19 shows the effectiveness of the ideological apparatuses of neoliberalism so that inequality is considered as the natural state of society , while the extreme right continues to develop its paranoid narrative of imputation to the Other (foreign transmitters of the virus) that tries to impose the elimination of the weakest. A philosophical work that generates a debate around equality based on the deaths that coronavirus has left.

The bag or your life, by Rosa María Artal (Roca Editorial)

Today there are events that, if not transcribed in real time, run the risk of being manipulated or buried by hoaxes. And with this intention, the columnist Rosa María Artal has collected those of the coronavirus crisis in her book. Addressing in detail the political events before and during the pandemic, Artal develops an urgent macro-chronicle released before the state of alarm ends. From the first days of 2020, the formation of the coalition government, the nationalist debate and the previous one of the 8M until today, when the opposition has asked for the advance pass to the “new normality” giving a choice between the economy and health, ” The bag or your life”. For Artal, “a neoliberal trap that we should not allow”.

Settlement, by Ling-Ma (Today’s Topics)

Published in English in 2018, in Settlement American Ling Ma builds a sharp critique of capitalism riddled with irony. Furthermore, it unknowingly predicts the first global contagion of the 21st century, only it is not called coronavirus but rather Shen Fever, a deadly infection that comes from China and is decimating populations. It is the only work of fiction on the entire list, but its reflection of the generation millennial and the incorporation to the capitalist wheel in the heat of health apocalypse is opportune to put a dose of détente between the scientific tests.

Pandemicby Slavoj Zizek (Anagram)

In his new book, the irreverent Slovenian philosopher runs away from “naive reflections” and addresses what for him are the only long-term solutions to the coronavirus crisis: a new communism, environmental awareness and a fight to lose the least freedoms for the way. In the introduction, Zizek states that “the new normal it will have to be built on the ruins of our old lives “or barbarism will arise. And it does not only refer to strengthening health systems, but to reformulating from the foundations most of our democracies.

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