Karen Thompson Walker

Karen Thompson Walker’s THE DREAMERS Parallels Today’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Courtesy of today.com, jezebel.com
Posted March 17, 2020

Life feels kind of like a Karen Thompson Walker novel right now—specifically, the author’s novel The Dreamers, in which a mysterious sleeping disease tears through a small California community. Quarantine life, makeshift hospitals, having to visit with sick family members through glass—elements of our global reality that were practically unfathomable to most of us when the book was released in early 2019—feature heavily in her story about coping in a time of societal collapse.

Check out her piece for today.com, where she describes spending four years imaging a pandemic – and then it came true.


Last year, I published a novel about a mysterious, highly contagious virus that suddenly surfaces in an American town. In the book (“The Dreamers”), there is no treatment and no vaccine. The sickness is too new for scientists to fully understand. A college campus is quickly closed. A hospital is overrun by a surge of patients. Officials scramble to respond, with increasingly draconian measures, as cases rise precipitously. The stores in nearby Los Angeles even run out of facemasks. Eventually, the government cuts an entire town off from the rest of the world in hopes of halting the spread. Meanwhile, some people insist that the whole thing is just some kind of hoax.

I wrote this story based on a lot of research and from the comfort of a time and a place where no such threat was raging. (And for the record, it differs in many ways from our current circumstance — my imaginary virus is a sleeping sickness that triggers extraordinary dreams in its victims.)

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For hosts looking for the perfect Spring 2021 One Book selection, The Dreamers will give your readers an opportunity to talk about their experience through a fictional lens, and provide wonderful programming opportunities! Get in touch with us today to explore further.