After President Donald Trump announced his travel ban last year, the staff at the Penn Book Center in West Philadelphia quickly compiled a reading list, and then the book club: Books from Banned Lands. Every month, they read a piece of fiction from one of seven countries on the list, including Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Iraq. (You can still see their reading list here.)
Since then, bookstores continue to organize reading groups that take current political moments in new ways. The Book Club of Doom! features speculative fiction, an tv bigo increasingly popular genre that falls between sci-fi and mainstream literature.
“I think speculative speculative is a book that deals with possibilities, whether it’s political innovation or technological innovation, and that’s what’s the engine of the story,” says Book Club of Doom! organizer Kyle Brown-Watson. Think “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.
All of Brown-Watson’s selected books are by women, and mostly by colored females. On Saturday, they discussed “Gold Fame Citrus” by Claire Vaye Watkins, a portrait of post-apocalyptic California technicolor that Brown-Watson describes as “present-day biopsy.”