Originally published in 2018, Ling Ma's Severance has surged in popularity since the onset of the pandemic. Not unlike Mandel's Station Eleven or Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, the book explores the balance between connection and detachment, fantasy and disillusionment, and what it's like to cling to the shreds of existence. Through the lens of twenty-something Candace Chen, Ma compares the "before" and "after" of several event horizons: immigration, death, love, loneliness, and apocalypse. Utterly heart-breaking, Severance will leave readers wondering: What truly sickens us? Pandemic? Unfulfilled dreams? Or memories of a happier time?
Severance, by Ling Ma