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Songs for the End of the World

Tekijä: Saleema Nawaz

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1085252,091 (3.7)5
"In these dark days, Saleema Nawaz dares to write of hope. Songs for the End of the World is a loving, vivid, tenderly felt novel about men, women, and a possible apocalypse. I couldn't put it down." -Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors and The Wagers NATIONAL BESTSELLER. An immersive, deeply engaging, and hopeful novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending catastrophe. Named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, 49th Shelf, and a Book You Should Read by Maclean's and Chatelaine. How quickly he'd forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.      This is the story of a handful of people living through an unfolding catastrophe.      Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of a growing outbreak--all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling novel with eerie similarities to the real-life crisis, and as fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.      As we discover these characters' ties to one another--and to the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl--what emerges is an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone.       Brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz's glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people--and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 5/5
between 2 and 2.5 stars. it's pretty incredible to me that she wrote this before covid; her research was impeccable because the coronavirus she created and the world reaction to it mirrors, in so many little and big ways, what happened when covid came. that alone is impressive. (it also makes me think that if a nonscientist could predict what she did, we should have - as a world - been more prepared and more anticipatory.)

this is well written and realistic but i had some trouble keeping the connections between the people clear in my mind. which social circles intersected and how, which people were related and how. maybe it's reading it during an actual pandemic, but i wasn't as interested in the stories of the people themselves and just found myself comparing how our covid pandemic related to their aramis pandemic. this is a book, though, less about the actual pandemic and the way the coronavirus affects people, and more about the relationships between people and how people respond and react to outside changes that they can't do much about.

"He wonders if he has only forgotten what it's like to be a child - how not to see at a glance the shape of an ending before you begin."

"All the countries she'd visited while always feeling from nowhere. Or from a place more of the mind than real, half remembered, half described. And everywhere along the way picking up a phrase, a food, a new favorite thing, markers and souvenirs. They might have been affectations. But maybe that was all character was, anyway, an accumulation of affectations." ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Apr 2, 2022 |
This is the kind of book I can really get into....great characters, lots of intersecting or tangential stories, all very well written. This is the story centering on six people living at the time of a pandemic, and it affects their lives in different ways. While the pandemic is an important aspect of the story, it is really a story about resilience and hope as fundamental aspects of human life. Recommended. ( )
  LynnB | Dec 28, 2020 |
As strange as this might sound, it was actually quite enjoyable to read (I actually listened) a book set during a pandemic during this COVID pandemic. This is the second one that I’ve read - the first was The End of October by Lawrence Wright.
There were many passages in Songs for the end of the world where I found myself thinking, Yes, that’s it exactly. Nawaz also does a wonderful job of creating characters whose lives intersect in engaging ways. My favourite book quote came from an observation made by Elliot as he was returning to the city:
“The closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.”
Although sections of her book are quite sad, overall I found the book left me satisfied and hopeful. ( )
  JRlibrary | Oct 27, 2020 |
In the summer of 2020, New York City police officer Elliot Howe finds himself in quarantine after he learns that he was exposed to a novel coronavirus brought to the United States by a visiting teacher at his martial arts gym. As Elliot watches from his window, New York is gripped by ARAMIS—Acute Respiratory and Muscular Inflammatory Syndrome—and the hunt for ARAMIS Girl, a young Asian woman falsely believed to be patient zero for the outbreak. Songs for the End of the World also follows Owen Grant, a writer who is reluctantly drawn into the spotlight because he wrote a novel that seemed to predict the ARAMIS outbreak, and Emma Aslet, a singer-songwriter who is planning an ARAMIS relief fundraiser while she is expecting her first child. Weaving back and forth in time, and following a cast of loosely connected characters, Songs for the End of the World explores family and human connection in pandemic times.

Canadian novelist Saleema Nawaz wrote and then revised this book, her second novel, between 2013 and 2019. Looking to the past, she based her research on SARS, MERS, Ebola, and the 1918 influenza pandemic. Originally scheduled for publication in August 2020—the same month the events of the novel begin—it was published digital-first in April 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the globe. The print edition was released as scheduled on August 25, 2020 in Canada by McClelland & Stewart. As of this writing, the novel does not have an American publisher or US publication date.

The novel is set mainly over a five month period from August to December 2020, but with flashbacks to periods between 1999 and 2016. Most of the flashbacks happen in the first half of the book, delaying the sense of settling into the pandemic with interludes of normalcy. In the flashbacks, we see Owen beginning to write his pandemic novel just as his marriage starts to fall apart, follow Stu Jenkins beginning his career as a musician, and accompany the Aslet family as they circumnavigate the globe on their sailboat while Y2K draws closer, and join Elliot’s sister Sarah as she reveals to their parents that she has chosen to have a baby by herself.

Songs for the End of the World is a pandemic novel, but not a post-apocalyptic one. Certain parallels can definitely be drawn to the work of fellow Canadian novelist Emily St. John Mandel; Station Eleven came out in 2014 and was a pandemic novel that also featured a large cast of characters and employed a complex timeline. However, Songs for the End of the World does not destroy our society before offering the hope of rebuilding, but instead considers resilience in place. In this novel, it is those who try the hardest to isolate and escape who pay the heaviest price, while those families that turn towards one another find the capacity to heal old wounds and build new bonds as they grapple with the strange new world they suddenly find themselves living in.

As omniscient as Songs for the End of the World seems, it does differ from our current circumstances in important ways. Family is a key theme of the novel, one that Nawaz strikes at by having children be extremely susceptible to ARAMIS, and at the greatest risk of dying from the new disease. Elliot’s sister Sarah is desperate to protect her young son Noah—so desperate that she agrees to join Owen on his recently purchased sailboat to ride out the pandemic in isolation. Emma gives birth to her first child in the midst of the pandemic, as does Elliot’s ex-wife’s new partner, Julia. Another character faces the fact that the child she chose to have by herself would be alone if something happened to her during the pandemic, and another discovers offspring he was previously unaware of. Each in their way faces the question of what it means to bring new life into this world, with all its flaws and dangers.

Although Nawaz wrote this novel in a world where COVID-19 was not a reality, none of us will ever be able to read the book from that perspective. For better or for worse, my reading of this story is inevitably coloured by the reality of living through a real pandemic while reading about a fictional one. Although I’ve read a number of non-fiction pandemic books this year, Songs for the End of the World marks my first foray into fictional pandemics since COVID-19 began. As such, I was struck by the accuracy of Nawaz’s research, and the myriad ways that her ARAMIS outbreak mirrors our current circumstances down to the very smallest details of social distancing and public reaction and controversy. At times the meta-ness of the book was almost too much to bear—a fault of the world, not the writer. Like Owen, Nawaz has unexpectedly found herself the author of a pandemic novel that has suddenly come true. But unlike Owen, Nawaz sees connection and hope. “We may need to isolate at home, but it is not a time for isolationism,” she warns in the interview included at the ended of the book; “we need to come together in solidarity.” Originally published: https://shayshortt.com/2020/10/13/songs-for-the-end-of-the-world/ ( )
  sshortt | Oct 15, 2020 |
I needed to take some time and reflect on this book because of the circumstances we are living in today with the COVID19 pandemic. I wanted to be as unbiased as much as possible.
First off, it is impressive and interesting that this book was basically written before Covid19. The book focuses on a worldwide pandemic caused by a coronavirus called ARAMIS. It is not an exciting action account of an emerging virus with the accompanying race to find a cure. It is more of an exploration of the effect of a deadly novel virus that has the potential to wipe out humanity on a select group of people who are loosely socially connected.
I found the book interesting at times but at other times, I found it a bit tedious. I stuck with the novel and am glad I did finish it. I was in tears at the end which surprised me a bit as I was not keen on most of the characters but then this was meant as an exploration of everyday people with all the imperfections they have. It may also be part of the emotional toll that Covid19 has taken on not only me but also all of us. The novel is well written and the characters are also well developed which is not always easy. If you are looking for an exciting book on the fight to beat a threatening virus then this is not the book for you. On the other hand, if you are interested in delving a bit deeper into the human psyche and the effect a pandemic might have on various people then this would be a good book that I would recommend. ( )
  Veronica.Sparrow | Oct 10, 2020 |
näyttää 5/5
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu
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for those who have and share hope
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The end of the year is coming.
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia

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"In these dark days, Saleema Nawaz dares to write of hope. Songs for the End of the World is a loving, vivid, tenderly felt novel about men, women, and a possible apocalypse. I couldn't put it down." -Sean Michaels, author of Us Conductors and The Wagers NATIONAL BESTSELLER. An immersive, deeply engaging, and hopeful novel about the power of human connection in a time of crisis, as the bonds of love, family, and duty are tested by an impending catastrophe. Named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire, 49th Shelf, and a Book You Should Read by Maclean's and Chatelaine. How quickly he'd forgotten a fundamental truth: the closer you got to the heart of a calamity, the more resilience there was to be found.      This is the story of a handful of people living through an unfolding catastrophe.      Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of a growing outbreak--all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling novel with eerie similarities to the real-life crisis, and as fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.      As we discover these characters' ties to one another--and to the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl--what emerges is an extraordinary web of connection and community that reveals none of us is ever truly alone.       Brilliantly told by an unforgettable chorus of voices, Saleema Nawaz's glittering novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people--and that coming together may be what saves us in the end.

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