Books·Canadian

Songs for the End of the World

Saleema Nawaz tells the story of a handful of people who find themselves living through an unfolding catastrophe.

Saleema Nawaz

Elliot is a first responder in New York, a man running from past failures and struggling to do the right thing. Emma is a pregnant singer preparing to headline a benefit concert for victims of the outbreak, all while questioning what kind of world her child is coming into. Owen is the author of a bestselling plague novel with eerie similarities to the real-life pandemic. As fact and fiction begin to blur, he must decide whether his lifelong instinct for self-preservation has been worth the cost.

As the novel moves back and forth in time, we discover these characters' ties to one another and to those whose lives intersect with theirs. Linking them all is the mystery of the so-called ARAMIS Girl, a woman at the first infection site whose unknown identity and whereabouts cause a furor. 

Written and revised between 2013 and 2019, Saleema Nawaz's novel is a moving and hopeful meditation on what we owe to ourselves and to each other. It reminds us that disaster can bring out the best in people and that coming together may be what saves us in the end. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Saleema Nawaz is a fiction writer currently living in Montreal. She is also the author of the novel Bone and Bread, which was defended on Canada Reads 2016 by Farah Mohammed.

Why Saleema Nawaz wrote Songs for the End of the World

"Part of the impetus for the novel was this desire to write a disaster story that was realistic and hopeful. I also wanted to look at that idea of how stories shape our beliefs. 

"If you see a Hollywood disaster movie and you think that everybody is going to be hoarding, looting or turning on one another — how does that affect your own behaviour?

Part of the impetus for the novel was this desire to write a disaster story that was realistic and hopeful.- Saleema Nawaz

"I always wanted to have a character who was a writer. In the book, this character has written a pandemic novel and it seems like it's starting to come true. And because of the timing of when this book comes out, people start to see what's happening with the virus in the real world through the lens of his book."

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Saleema Nawaz

Montreal writer Saleema Nawaz talks about her novel Songs for the End of the World, which takes place during a global pandemic.

Other books by Saleema Nawaz

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