Jean Michelin’s Those Who Stay is a powerful and deeply human novel about the impact of war on soldiers fighting in distant countries, and what these men are like when they return. Wearing a mask of silence to avoid the expression of strong feelings for fear of losing control comes at a high cost. The story centres around a private investigation done by four soldiers when one of their unit is reported missing. Their adherence to the military doctrine based on mutual trust between leaders and those they lead is unshakeable, even when back home on civvy street. Those Who Stay also shows the detrimental effect of their arrivals and departures on the families, girlfriends and wives who stay behind; and the children growing up alone with their mother.
According to HISTORY UK, the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, “infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide – about one-third of the planet’s population – and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims, including some 675,000 Americans.” Luckily, however horrific the current pandemic, numbers such as those have not yet been reached, with 2,214,461 people declared infected 148,979 deaths and 560,309 people who have recovered at the time of writing. [Worldometer]
As Covid-19 wreaks havoc on all parts of the publishing and writing worlds – the Guardian’s listing of major cancellations makes for sobering reading – book fairs are starting to operate online, the Society of Authors has just announced its Home Festival (20 April to 1 May 2020), and The Royal Society of Literature is sending out an Only Connect thrice-weekly letter to subscribers, “helping us to stay close to one another in these times of isolation”. How sad it is to hear that the Chilean author, Luis Sepúlveda, has died of the dreaded virus at the age of seventy. Continue reading BookBlasts® | Top 10 Reads for Self-isolating Minds | April 2020