Thursday, 16 April 2020

The world turned upside down

Last week I sent the Dutch manuscript for The Cargo to my publisher, Palmslag.

The Cargo, like The Batavian, my first book, is set in the years before the Corona pandemic.

It is too early to say if and when we will return to a normal world as we knew it. It can only be expected that many things will change. Hopefully for the better, although I am not so certain. Freedom, civil rights, privacy and health are all at risk.

Unlimited travel, dirt cheap subsidized air traffic, round trips to the Seychelles, Peru or Thailand will also feel the consequences of this crisis. Far worse is the situation of countless people, who lose their income and run into great trouble.

I know a poor family in Ghana. Due to the lockdown, which also applies there, they can hardly leave the house, and the six of them are in a small house. A day laborer cannot make money to feed his family in such a situation. They were a little ashamed to ask if I could help out financially. You can do little else, can you?

Jamestown, Accra, Ghana
What bothers me as an author? Personally, of course, the same as everyone in the Netherlands: less freedom of movement, hardly seeing your children, family and friends, not going to the movies or the museum. And the tiny chance that you will get the virus too.

But if you've written a manuscript set in this day and age, you need to take extra care. Such as Two Fathoms Down, some of which takes place on a yacht, partly in the Wadden Sea, and partly on the English east coast. I do not yet know whether what I wrote will ever be possible again. So the manuscript may very well have to be revised once the future becomes clear.

Another idea, which was still in an embryonic stage, was a story about social disruption after a different kind of disaster (not an epidemic). Well, we are now experiencing that ourselves, so I no longer have to come up with fiction about it ...

An author's concerns are negligible compared to those of families with small children living in a tiny Council flat. This, in turn, cannot be compared to what happens in refugee camps in Greece, to poor residents of the United States and poverty-stricken day laborers in developing countries - India, Africa, Latin America.

They are the real losers of this crisis.

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