Novel by Tyrell Johnson, 2018 Simon & Schuster
This is a story of the ‘after times’ – after the world as we know it has been laid waste by war and pestilence. Nuclear wars and an influenza pandemic. People, especially in the United States, have gone mad. Survivors are trying to keep on surviving in a post-apocalyptic new world.
A young woman and her family had headed north from the United States, ending up in the Yukon. They have made a new life far away from anyone and anything from the past times. But they can’t keep isolated forever, it seems. This is the story of how they live and how they deal with that past intruding.
Not the kind of book I usually enjoy reading. But we are now living in the ‘after times.’ There has been an influenza pandemic and a war in Europe in which nuclear weapons have been threatened. People, especially in the United States, often appear to have gone mad.
Art and life
When Tyrell Johnson wrote the book, he couldn’t have known that he was writing anything other than a story about the “nasty, brutish, and short” life that may be in store for humanity. When I told my husband about the book, he said “sounds like The Road, Cormac McCarthy.” I said that comparison is made in the jacket blurbs. I had thought of Mad Max, although The Wolves of Winter is gentler.
These are stories that warn: if you don’t get yourselves sorted out, this is what you might get. But no matter how horrible they are, they’re in the future and nothing like that would ever really happen.
I’m very glad that I did not read The Wolves of Winter when it first came out. I’d likely have read it that way: oh, scary but we’d never let that really happen. However, in 2023 it reads like social commentary rather than predictive fiction.
Must have been very odd for Mr. Johnson. Sometime in 2018 he’s happily looking at his first novel on bookstore and library shelves. Then a year or so later, what he wrote about is actually happening.
Many of us in recent years have said “Wow, you couldn’t make this up!” And Tyrell Johnson, not so long before, had indeed been making it up! Maybe kind of like George Orwell might have felt if, right after 1984 came out, he’d picked up his phone and something called Facebook asked “What’s on your mind, George?”
The Wolves of Winter is a great read – especially in the ‘after times.’