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Coronavirus

The Camus Classic In You, From COVID-19 To BLM

Albert Camus’ 1947 'The Plague'
Albert Camus’ 1947 "The Plague"
Bertrand Hauger

Forced to stay home from one day to the next, millions of quarantined people were suddenly faced with a rare luxury in our fast-paced world: time. That, of course, came with a question: What to do with it?

Where others may have chosen to Netflix, garden, read, meditate or complete a 51,300 pieces-jigsaw puzzle, the French seemed to have had a rather French response: Ecrivons ! A survey quoted by daily Le Monde shows that during lockdown, 1 in 10 French had seized the nearest quill, electronic or otherwise, and started jotting down their thoughts. The Robert Laffont publishing house says that within a two-month quarantine span it had received an impressive 1,500 manuscripts — three times more than usual.

The Paris daily notes that the country's publishers remain cautious as to the quality of such a quantity of work. At the same time, the book industry has itself been hit hard by the crisis, with some prominent authors struggling to get their words out, among flat sales rates and cancelled book tours.

So where does that leave the first-time scribes? Much ink, no doubt, is being spilled in the "pandemic-inspired fiction" department. French writers may be hard-pressed to top Albert Camus' 1947 The Plague, the absurdist masterpiece depicting a cholera-like disease sweeping the Algerian city of Oran. But Le Monde reports that these burgeoning new authors are also churning out romance novels, cooking books and poetry, bien sûr.

Across the Atlantic, a similar hodgepodge of creative endeavors is at play, with Arlington Public Library director Diane Kresh introducing the library's Quaranzine: a weekly online publication gathering collages, essays, drawings, comics, etc., from hundreds of local contributors. In Kresh's words, "When the going gets tough, the tough get arty."

And then two weeks ago, the world's storyline seemed to abruptly shift again. With the May 25 killing of George Floyd, questions of racial injustice and police brutality consumed our minds, and time, eclipsing all those pandemic anxieties and bread recipes. Alienation, race and violence driving the Black Lives Matter movement. But if French writers follow that plot, they will be competing with another Camus classic: The Stranger.

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Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

food / travel

Bogus Honey, Olive Oil Remix: How Fraudulent Foods Spread Around The World

What you have in your plate isn't always what you think it is. As food counterfeiting increases in the food industry and in our daily lives, some products are more likely to be "fake", and it's up to consumers to be careful.

Image of honey

Honey

Arwin Neil Baichoo / Unsplash
Marine Béguin

All that glitters isn't gold – and all that looks yummy isn't necessarily the real deal.

Food fraud or food counterfeiting is a growing concern in the food industry. The practice of substituting or adulterating food products for cheaper, lower quality or even harmful ingredients not only deceives consumers but can pose serious health risks.

Here's an international look at some of the most widespread fake foods – from faux olive oil to counterfeit seafood and even fraudulent honey.

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