Bi Shumin’s novel, 毕淑敏，” Coronavirus 花冠病毒 ” ,released in 2012, had already “seen it all”.
From Sras to coronavirus
She is a physician and worked in fighting against the SARS epidemic in 2003. She tells the story from her experience. After eight years of writing and rewriting, she describes the spread of an epidemic, which seems to tell us about the current pandemic. With a narrative that is somewhere between anticipation and noir fiction, Bi Shumin recounts the struggle against the coronavirus in Yan, an imaginary city, in the year 20NN.
To say, not to say!
The introduction sets the tone by showing the debates within the municipality on the information to be given to the public while justifying the concealment in order not to panic the population:
“What’s the news for our emergency meeting today? On March 2 at midnight, the death toll exceeded three figures, 101. The present problem is: “What is our relationship with the people? “Yuan Zaichun asked. As the commander of the epidemic control office, he has to communicate with the media every day about the situation, the number of deaths is the figure that the population pays the most attention. In the past, reports generally reflected reality. The population demands transparency and asks to be informed immediately of any news. The city of Yan, at all levels, has maintained stability.Chang Ningxiong said, “Do you all have an opinion? Speak up, we do not accept abstention.” A majority voted to expose the real situation. A minority preferred that the death figures be treated technically. Chang Ning continued: “Speak more clearly, what do you call technical treatment? » Nobody says a word. Yuan Zaichun continued: “It’s concealment. Reducing the number of deaths” He was the lawyer of this clan. »
An eventful plot
The story follows Luo Weizhi. As a writer, she is part of the special reporting team and is responsible for observing the fight against the epidemic.
Before leaving, Li Yuan, a chemist, asks her to bring back samples of the virus while giving her a medicine against the virus. She gains the trust of Yuan Zaichun, director of the Fighting Command. He gives her the autopsy reports of Yu Zengfeng, a forensic expert killed by the virus.
The documents preserved the virus and she’s infected. The powder provided by the chemist helps her to recover and she continues her investigation. As Luo is cured, she has antibodies, so she takes the opportunity to go and recover virus strains from the corpses with the director’s approval. The secret services, the aigrefins and the corrupted will try to take advantage of a miracle drug and Luo, who carries antibodies. The plot gains pace as the story unfolds, with multiple twists and turns.
Bi Shumin’s novel seems to tell the story of the epidemic that started in Wuhan in 2020. The same attempts to stifle reality, the death of a doctor, the witch hunt, suspicion, the foreign plot, intersect. As the Chinese government tries to turn the tide by storytelling the Chinese victory against the epidemic, this book comes at the right time to remind us of the danger of the epidemic and misinformation.
3rd of May 2020