1. D.D. Johnston’s Disnaeland is a rare beast of a novel: it takes the stuff of the apocalypse and makes you laugh. Dystopian stories, like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, lead readers into ever-darkening times. Disnaeland starts with the premise that life on earth is already pretty shitty: when the crisis comes, when the world’s power supplies cut off, what happens next? Here’s D.D.’s take: ‘The disaster in Disnaeland spurs the people of Dundule to grow and heal, find love and friendship, and briefly create something like Heaven on earth.’         So that’s our first pick of books from writers who find light in dark times. We asked D.D. Johnston to pick four others to which he feels close..
  2.  Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. Although published back in 2014, this Canadian pandemic novel’s having a new lease of life with a TV version currently screening. It’s unusual – and similar to Disnaeland – in that it focuses on the decency and humanity of survivors of the apocalypse rather than on their barbarism (it’s also really quite good!).
  3. The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan. Again, this is a bit older (2016) but it’s a somewhat hopeful and tender (and fantastical) Scottish take on the edge of the world.
  4. How To Survive Everything (When There’s No One Left To Trust) by Ewan Morrison (2021). This is probably the closest – a Scottish novel narrated by a teenage girl whose survivalist dad is obsessed with a coming pandemic. Even features a gruesome amputation scene.
  5. I’d also mention Rebecca Solnit’s non-fiction A Paradise Built In Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise In Disaster (2010). It’s about how real-life disasters bring out the best in us: real-world public responses to disaster are characterised by “altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity”.


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