When we started Bored to Death book club, we felt that it was important to have some self-imposed rules regarding the books we picked. For our first book picks, we wanted books with less than a 1000 ratings on Goodreads and that were originally written in English. These were pretty arbitrary rules and we let go of the first one pretty quickly, but it took us a little longer to shed the other rule. However, we figured that now was a great time to be more inclusive and to read literature from the entire world. To celebrate our no-more-rules book club policy, we picked two dystopian novels for our next meeting – one old and one new – but both from very different ends of the planet.
WE tells the story of the minutely organized United State, where all citizens are not individuals but only he-Numbers and she-Numbers existing in identical glass apartments with every action regulated by the “Table of Hours.” It is a community dedicated to the proposition that freedom and happiness are incompatible; that most men believe their freedom to be more than a fair exchange for a high level of materialistic happiness.
WE is recognized as the inspiration for George Orwell’s famous 1984 and wasn’t published in Russia until 1988 due to official censorship.
It is generally regarded as a classic Utopian novel and a historic landmark in Soviet literature.
Basma Abdel Aziz
In an unnamed Middle Eastern city, a centralized authority known as the Gate has risen to power in the aftermath of the “Disgraceful Events,” a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate for even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the building never opens, and the queue in front of it grows longer and longer.
Citizens from all walks of life wait in the sun: a revolutionary journalist, a sheik, the cousin of a security officer killed in the clashes with protestors, and a man with injuries The Gate would prefer to keep quiet.
A very real vision of life after the Arab Spring written with dark, subtle intelligence, The Queue describes the sinister nature of authoritarianism and illuminates the way that absolute authority manipulates information, mobilizes others in service to it, and fails to uphold the rights of even those faithful to it.