A story from our reading list: "Monstro," by Junot Diaz.
One of the many things I like about this story is how it effortlessly spans the boundaries between literary and genre fiction. It's also social commentary: Like all the best science fiction, it holds a mirror up to our own society.
In it, a devastating epidemic begins in Haiti, and leads to the end of the world. We learn this early: the third paragraph begins, "These days everybody wants to know what you were doing when the world came to an end." So, as in Atwood's "Stone Mattress," we know right away where this story is headed—and that's one of the reasons we want to keep reading.
Of the origins of this story, Diaz says, "A couple years ago I got to thinking that our world has so many blind spots, so many places and people it intentionally doesn’t want to see—if some menace began to coalesce in these spaces, our own unseeing would, in fact, blind us to the danger. It struck me that many of these very spaces were also the most neglected, mistreated, vulnerable areas of our world—areas on the global body where an opportunistic infection could and would take root—and from there the story began developing."
I also love what he says about his choice to allow this story to occupy the realm of science fiction: "It just happens that there are people that want to build real-ish worlds to address reality; others of us want to get at reality through unreal worlds. Different strategies, same goal. When I write what I long for is not more realism or fiction but more courage. That’s what I always find myself short on and what I have to struggle to achieve in order that the work might live."
Read the rest of his commentary here.
Read the story: "Monstro" by Junot Diaz