A Dystopia for Every Reader

Readers are clamoring for dystopian fiction. (Apparently, not everybody has a well-worn, highlighted, dog-eared copy of 1984 sitting on their shelves.) I’d like to suggest some dystopian books from my own library to read during these very interesting times. (For a list of contemporary American dystopian novels, click here.)


Reality-based Dystopia

Open Doors and Three Novellas, by Leonardo Sciascia

I am currently rereading this now. The title refers to the Italian fascist emphasis on strong-arm, law and order politics that produce a society where one can sleep with the doors open.

alberto moravia the conformistThe Conformist, by Alberto Moravia

A classic of the era, it explores one man’s struggle to blindly obey Mussolini’s regime by killing his former professor as a matter of duty.

The Lazarus Project, by Aleksander Hemon

A fictionalized investigation into the real-life murder of Lazarus Averbuch in 1908. Also investigated are the era’s anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim view, and anti-immigration policies.


Post-Colonial French Dystopia

murder in memorian didier daeninckxMurder In Memoriam, by Didier Daeninckx
An investigator’s attempt to solve the murder of a history teacher that took place during a historic massacre of Algerians in 1961 Paris, and its connection with the murder of the victim’s son twenty years later. Facts and history prove elusive.

Tea in the Harem, by Mehdi Charef

The slice-of-life story of a young man and his family who live in a housing project in Paris predominately inhabited by fellow Algerian immigrants.


Dystopian Fiction Beyond the Classics

children of the new world alexander weinsteinChildren of the New World, by Alexander Weinstein

A collection of short stories taking new technologies, social networking, and biological advances to new, thought-provoking heights. Fans of Black Mirror will appreciate Weinstein’s visions.

Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E. Butler

A heroine with the ability to feel everything everyone else is feeling. A journey to a better life after society has crumbled from resource scarcity. The alternative to The Road. (Actually, put all of Butler’s books on your to-read list.)

The Private Eye, by Brian K. Vaughn

A graphic novel-format futuristic mystery in which there are no secrets to anyone and masks are the garb of public life. Big brother isn’t watching you because everyone else is.



About the Author:

Michael Ruzicka, Office Manager, was raised in suburban Los Angeles, received a BA in Creative Writing/Poetry at UC Santa Cruz, then moved to Birmingham, AL, where he spent five years owning an independent bookstore and earned an MLIS. He has brought his librarian skills to Vanderbilt’s Television News Archive, Battle Ground Academy, The Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Michael is very excited to be a part of Booklist and call Chicago his home.

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