The Black Death epidemic spawned Boccaccio’s Decameron; the bubonic plague brought us A Journal of the Plague Year. Many other great literary works have centered around storytelling at the time of a pandemic. Of people quarantined in their homes in 1722, Daniel Defoe wrote: “It was generally in such houses that we heard the most dismal shrieks and outcries of the poor people, terrified and even frighted to death by the sight of the condition of their dearest relations, and by the terror of being imprisoned as they were.”
In March of 2020, a new virus in the shape of a crown forced Montrealers and people worldwide to be locked in their homes in fear of contagion. Social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine became the new buzzwords dominating everyday vocabulary.
In April, once this new reality set in, the Quebec Writers’ Federation asked its members, “What’s the story of your day?” It initiated a project, Chronicling the Days, inviting writers to detail a typical day in their life. The aim was to provide writers with a forum to put their creative thoughts to paper to try to make sense of the surreal situation and find some connection with other writers. “Every story valid,” the guidelines stated. One hundred writers responded to the challenge.
True to its slogan of “No Borders, No Limits,” Guernica Editions is collaborating with the Quebec Writers’ Federation to publish these essays in an anthology in the spring of 2021. These 100 essays are interspersed by six longer ones, also on the topic of the pandemic, but written for the QWF Writes series. Most submissions are by professional authors, members of the QWF; for some, however, this anthology represents their first time in print.
Chronicling the Days—Dispatches from a Pandemic provides an intimate panorama of the early days and experiences of the coronavirus. Constituting a rich mosaic of different styles, forms, and voices, this anthology provides a moving account of the everyday life of Quebec writers in isolation, digging deeply into their souls and reaching out to others.
Or order a copy from your local bookstore