This week saw the release of the brilliant Ariel Djanikian‘s debut novel, The Office of Mercy. Djanikian’s book drops you into a deliciously paranoid world that we’re confident will go down in history with the best of them, so we asked her to put together a list of her favorite dystopian love stories (just be sure to mentally add The Office of Mercy to her list). Here’s what she told us: “Dystopian tales seem to go hand-in-hand with scintillating, high-octane love stories: perhaps because dire circumstances have a knack of drawing people together, perhaps because claustrophobic repression makes the highs and lows of love affairs that much more potent. These ten books boast plenty of heart-stopping love triangles, as well as romantic pairings with some changes: robots, clones, and cyborgs get in on the action. They are love affairs that question how much feeling we have to offer, and how much trust we can risk in the face of political pressures. Love is never the cure-all for these characters, but it can be an intervention, as Jeanette Winterson says, against powers of destruction.”
Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
Even clones have souls. And they definitely have complicated love triangles that persist from school days well into adulthood. Though Kathy and Tommy share a potent connection, Ruth and Tommy are the ones who end up in a long-term and stormy relationship. Years later, Ruth regrets coming between her friends… but Kathy’s and Tommy’s days are already numbered. Pity the grown-up Hailsham students for wasting precious moments of their too-short lives on jealous squabbles — and on filling their days with anything but love. Then close the book and pity ourselves for exactly the same reasons.