By Carolyn Dowd and George Martinez
Following the November election, George Orwell’s 1984 became an instant best-selling novel. It is one among a number of 20th Century dystopian novels making a resurgence in popularity recently. A bitterly contested American election and subsequent change in governing style may have prompted some to seek out fictionalized accounts of dystopian realities, as an odd form of comfort.
What is dystopian fiction? Contrary to utopian fictions, in which an author projects an ideal worldview of humanity, dystopian fictions offer a darker vision of human behavior, where desired societal norms are turned on their heads. Thus, a society might led not by a beneficent, wise and humane ruler, but an immature, inhumane, simple-minded fool.
In 1984, Winston Smith lives under the intolerable, crippling and constant scrutiny of the ironically named ruler of Oceana, Big Brother. His attempts to find individual freedom within such a society forms the main drama of the novel.
Want to dig further into our collection of dystopian fiction? Here’s a list:
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson
The Stand by Stephen King
V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
Blindness by José Saramago
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler