Closer Than You Think by S.A. Barton





Published December 24, 2016 by Smashwords Edition


Writing dystopian fiction in this day and age poses many challenges, not the least of which is this: how do you keep up? Many of the dystopian premises we see in literature are already popping up in the news — in some form — and often, as Lord Byron famously observed, truth is stranger than fiction.

That was my reaction this week when the media revealed, not for the first time, that employers are microchipping workers. (One of my dogs has a microchip. But if I hired someone to work for me, I would trust them not to wander off and get lost.)

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March by Geraldine Brooks



Paperback, 280 pages

Published: January 31, 2006 by Penguin (1st published October 10, 2004)

Literary Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (2006)


March re-imagines the absent father in Little Women, who went to war and returned to his wife and daughters in a memorable Christmas scene. Although Geraldine Brooks adopted the elegant, rather formal language of the period, in a novel reflecting many of the moral values in Louisa May Alcott’s most famous classic, March is not a children’s story. It is a war story, gorgeous and eloquent but also raw and brutal.

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Mudbound by Hillary Jordan


MudboundHardcover, 328 pages

Published: Published March 4, 2008 by Algonquin Books (1st published January 1, 2008)

Setting: Mississippi, 1940s

Literary Awards:  ALA Alex Award (2009), NAIBA Book of the Year for Fiction (2008), PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for Fiction (2006)


Henry and I dug the hole seven feet deep . Any shallower and the corpse was liable to come rising up during the next big flood: Howdy boys! Remember me?

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Children of Men (2006)

large_pGksHILD8UljwU1J3ZLPPRgyvF8Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Timothy J. Sexton, David Arata, Mark Fergus, & Hawk Ostby, based on the novel by P.D. James

Theo (Clive Owen) has given up political activism and is simply trying to get by in a bleak dystopian world. As women have become infertile, and the youngest humans are now 18, the end of humanity is — to quote 28 Days Later — very fucking nigh.

Britain has become a police state continually battling violence. Official propaganda boldly states that the rest of the world is now in ruins, but “Britain Soldiers On!” The government has launched a Naziesque crackdown on illegal immigrants, and a domestic terrorist group called The Fish is fighting back. Oh, and the authorities are helpfully distributing suicide kits along with rations, encouraging people to go ahead and get out of the way before the eleventh hour. (But marijuana is still illegal — go figure.)

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Kafka on the Shore (海辺のカフカ) by Haruki Murakami



Hardcover, 436 pages

Published: January 26, 2005 by Knopf Publishing Group (1st published 2002)

Setting: Japan

Literary Awards: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2006), Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Nominee for Longlist (2006), PEN Translation Prize (2006), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Preis der Jugendjury (2005), Tähtifantasia Award (2010)


Three parallel stories run through the novel, and we don’t understand until later how they’re all intertwined. A precocious fifteen-year-old, who has renamed himself Kafka, runs away from home. He is fleeing a barren family life and a peculiar Oedipal prophecy. He takes up residence in a library, continuing his rich self-education.

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Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie



Hardcover, 433 pages

Published: September 12, 2006 by Knopf (1st published 2006)

Setting: Nigeria


This vivid, absorbing, and — at times — excruciatingly painful novel, set in Nigeria during the 1960s, revolves around twin sisters. Olanna and Kainene are the daughters of a wealthy Igbo chief and businessman.

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