Bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult has written a novel inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. Entitled Wish You Were Here, it tells the story of the impact the virus has on a young woman – and how it forces her to re-examine what she most values in life.
The novel will be published on 25 November by Ballantine in the US and by Hodder in the UK. In the UK the book was bought by Carolyn Mays, Hodder MD, from eponymous agent Laura Gross. The synopsis reads: ‘: “It’s Friday the 13th and Diana is an ambitious young appraiser at Sotheby’s in New York. She’s about to go on a long-awaited holiday, where she knows Finn, her surgeon boyfriend, will propose and the next stage of her carefully planned life will begin. But it is Friday the 13th of March 2020. The new virus hits. Finn can’t leave the city, and suggests she goes without him. In the Galapagos, unable to get back to her real life, Diana learns about the devastation hitting the world as she hears intermittently from her boyfriend. She’s discovering a new side to herself and a new kind of life, when everything changes.”
Mays said: “It was such a thrill to see this fabulous new novel arrive in my inbox. Jodi Picoult’s characters chronicle the early months of the pandemic with the frustration and rage we all felt, but find hope and bright moments in it, and ultimately, a way to make it matter.”
Picoult herself said that she struggled both creatively and emotionally when lockdown hit. “Humans mark tragedy. Everyone remembers where they were when Kennedy was shot, when the Twin Towers fell, and the last thing they did before the world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “In those early days, I was so anxious that I couldn’t concentrate on anything – which meant that I couldn’t distract myself with my work. I couldn’t write. I couldn’t even read.”
She added: “I started working on a novel, attempting to jog my muscle memory and somehow my brain remembered how to craft a book. But the whole time I was working on that story, I was wondering: how are we going to chronicle this pandemic? How do we tell the tale of how the world shut down, and why, and what we learned? I hope Wish You Were Here does some of that.”