Sreeraj talked about the profoundly moving book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This dystopian post-apocalyptic novel talks about the survival instincts of a father and a son. They walk through the barren landscape of an America that has been ravaged by fire and ash. It is cold and they do not know where they are heading to. All they have is a pistol for self-defense and a map that the man refers to. They go from uninhabited house to house, seeking food and shelter. The son keeps asking for reassurance as they see many gory sights on the way. Sreeraj was especially impressed by the kind of cli-fi words the author used dark, dead, grey, carbon fog, forest fire, ash, snow…The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and was also adapted into a movie.
Most millennials relate to this kind of book as there are many post-apocalyptic series and movies these days. Take Bird Box and other zombie series where the primary themes revolve around people who are foraging and trying their best to survive. Post-apocalyptic situations are also rampant in video games like The Last of Us.
You can listen to Cormac McCarthy talk to Oprah about this lyrical book here.
A book this reminded Poonam of was Y: The Last Man comic series by Brian K. Vaughan. The premise of this graphic novel is interesting. A sex-specific plague wipes out the 2.9 billion men on earth, including male animals — every creature with a Y chromosome. Except two.
While the idea of survival is a theme that sells, the reality may be quite boring and not as romantic as writers make it out to be, one of the readers mused. People would have to go back to agriculture and till the land. Another reader observed how human beings are built for survival, so much so that even if they are left to their own devices in a jungle, someone who is unfamiliar with forest terrain will try his best to live and adapt to the ways of the woods. Of course, they could also die in the process. Take the case of the Rapa Nui in Easter Island.
After dystopian disillusionment, Aniket brought our attention to The God Delusion, a sensational book of 2006. Richard Dawkins’s theories must be understood in the context of a world where polarities like secularism and fundamentalism draw swords. The idea of Darwinism is a heavily disputed idea even today. Dawkins views God as an excuse that human beings use to wage war and indulge in abuse. In spite of his infamous twitterfeed, Dawkins book is a seminal work and would interest seekers of knowledge. Watch Dawkins here. Aniket also mentioned having read the book Why am I a Hindu by Shashi Tharoor.
Mani talked about the popular book of our BYOB Parties – Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari. He is still reading the book and is impressed by the author’s multidisciplinary approach. The book seems to be the talking point of all book gatherings today.
More books in Part 5.