Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Joanna Kavenna's favorite books on surveillance

Joanna Kavenna grew up in various parts of Britain, and has also lived in the USA, France, Germany, Scandinavia and the Baltic States. Her first book The Ice Museum was about traveling in the remote North, among other things. Her second was a novel called Inglorious, which won the Orange Award for New Writing. It was followed by a novel called The Birth of Love, which was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Then came her novel Come to the Edge, a satire. Kavenna's latest novel is Zed, "a blistering, satirical novel about life under a global media and tech corporation that knows exactly what we think, what we want, and what we do--before we do."

At the Guardian, Kavenna shared her favorite books that reveal how we are scrutinized, including:
The Russian author Yevgeny Zamyatin’s novel We was banned by the Soviet censorship board in 1921, appearing in an English translation three years later. He describes a future society in which all the buildings are made of glass so – like the panopticon – everyone can be seen at all times. Orwell reviewed We in 1946, three years before echoing Bentham in his own novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four: “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. You had to live … in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinised.”
Read about the other titles on the list.

We is among Mark Skinner's five great literary dystopias, Christopher Hill's top ten books about tyrants, Weston Williams's fifteen classic science fiction books, and Lawrence Norfolk's five most memorable dystopias in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue